Day At The Track

Monbet magnificent

04:02 PM 26 Oct 2016 NZDT
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Monbet,Harness racing
Stuart McCormick photo

As far as racing resumptions go, they couldn’t have come much more perfect than that of Monbet’s on Monday.

The reigning Horse of the Year made light work of his first run since the Harness Jewels back in June when he claimed the Ashburton Trotters’ Flying Mile in a very slick 1.55.2 for the one mile distance.

Off the back of just one solitary workout, many expected the Group One winning machine to be in need of a run and even saw him as vulnerable first up. But when Ricky May asked for an effort of the son of Love You with 200 metres to run and he strode up to a valiant Harriet Of Mot any preconceived ideas that he would be beaten went quickly out the window.

“He did it pretty easy,” May said.

“Apart from knocking off when he got to the front he was perfect, he’s come a long way off the back of that workout last week, even just to look at - he looks magnificent.”

May managed to pull all the right strings with the five-year-old gelding and was in turn given a little luck on the home bend when he was able to slot onto the back of Marcoola after Jag’s Invasion galloped.

That was the difference between being trapped three wide without cover for the final 600 metres and getting a decent breather in before they straightened for home.

“I don’t think it would have changed the result with the way he felt, but it certainly helped the cause,” May added.

A rampant favourite for the Dominion Handicap in just over two weeks time, Monbet will head to the trials at Addington next Wednesday as opposed to Kaikoura on Monbet where he was touted as being headed.

“We will miss Kaikoura now that I’ve seen that,” co-trainer Greg Hope said.

“He can head to the Cup trials and that should have him ready for the Dominion, that workout last week has clearly worked wonders for him, you could see him late last week really lift.

“I still think he’s only 85 per cent, so we have some room to work with which is good.

“But it’s a perfect start really. We couldn’t ask for much more from him and it’s a bit of a relief to have that one out of the way.”

While Monbet was superb there were meritorious performances in behind him too.

Harriet Of Mot showed that, if given the opportunity, she will snare a big race in her career.

She set the hot speed after burning from behind the gate and went down fighting to a potential champion of trotting.

Marcoola, in his first run against the open class horses was far from disgraced in third after burning around to get outside the leader at the 800 metre mark.

Both will now become key players in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day - a race without Monbet.

But on what was offered up on Monday at Ashburton, it’s going to take something exceptional to beat him on the Friday in the Dominion Handicap.


Matt Markham

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