Day At The Track

Monbet reigns supreme

09:21 AM 09 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Monbet winning

By his own admission, Ricky May knew just how close he came to blowing a Group One victory at Addington yesterday.

For years the champion reinsman has been renowned for his ability to get the best out of a horse without knocking them around - it’s a driving style that has, in time, often won him so many big races but it’s also thrown a lot of criticism his way too. And had the might of Monbet not got him over the line first in yesterday’s Group One New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, after a stirling length of the straight battle with Marcoola, he knew as well as anyone what the reaction would have been like.

“I completely underestimated it around the last bend,” May said.

“He felt like he was travelling and when I angled him onto the back of Marcoola he took the bit and I thought he would just come off his back and run past him.

“But he didn’t and that’s all to the credit of the other horse who just kept giving the whole way up the straight.”

With the Dominion Handicap just over 72 hours away at the time, May was conscious of not asking for too much from Monbet and ensuring the horse didn’t expend too much energy ahead of the major assignment for Cup Week 2016.

So when the opportunity to duck for a bit of cover arose, it was always going to be in the Methven horseman’s nature to take it.

“We’ve got a pretty big race coming up in a couple of days and the last thing you want to be doing is going out there and giving him a real hard run that will leave him flat.

“In saying that he doesn’t seem to be quite as sharp when he’s not in front, he took a fair bit to get around to parked when I moved around them.”

At the end of the day, whether or not May did leave it a little late or not became a moot point when Monbet called on all his champion like qualities to draw level to, and then head Marcoola in the shadows of the post.

He never actually looked fully likely to do that until inside the last 50 metres when May’s urgency levels went from moderate to through the roof in about one second flat.

What is sure now though is that Friday’s Dominion looks ripe for the picking for Monbet and if he is successful, he will be able to lay claim to holding all the major trotting titles in New Zealand within a 12 month period.

His charge on Friday is helped by the fact Marcoola won’t be there - but there is some fresh blood joining the fray in the form of on-song trotters; Bordeaux, Harriet Of Mot and Sunny Ruby along side many of those who were left to fight for the scraps yesterday.

“I think he will tighten up again with that run,” May said.

Monbet’s win yesterday was of course his second in the race after last year’s effort but also gave May his fourth win in the race following last year and then the winning efforts of Allegro Agitato and the grand old trotter Cedar Fella in 1997.

May combined with Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet’s trainers later in the day for a Cup Day double when Everybody Knows produced a stunning performance after an early gallop in the C1 Trot.

There will be no late payment for the Dominion made by the connections of Marcoola despite his valiant effort to lead up in a New Zealand record time and push the reigning Horse of the Year so close.

He will follow a similar path to that which Monbet did last season so based on that, his next appearance could be on the grass track at Methven for the Green Mile early in December.

Australian raider, Kyvalley Blur was an eye-catching third in the event and is now a contender for Friday’s Group One.


Matt Markham

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