Retired dual New Zealand Cup hero Monkey King is on the verge of a surprise harness racing comeback.
The complete turn around could see the $3.4 million earner aimed at Addington's greatest race again this year. Trainer Brendon Hill said Monkey King will be nominated for the Cup when entries close tomorrow.
He believes the 10-year-old has a great chance of being at Addington on the second Tuesday in November.
"But one thing is for sure, you won't see him on the track again unless I am 110 per cent happy with him."
Monkey King was retired earlier this year after an 18-month battle to regain his best form, which ended with him struggling to even place in moderate races.
Hill believes that form loss was caused by a string of frustrating minor issues, rather than any one underlying problem.
Rather than simply heading to the retirement paddock, Monkey King was kept in work as a galloping pacemaker by Hill and as a wise old head to educate the younger horses.
"I looked at him a few months ago and he had never looked sounder so I just thought I'd chuck the hopples on him more often and up the ante.
"Since then he has gone ahead in leaps and bounds and feels perfect."
The son ofwill have a fast workout on Saturday (September 1) and if his trainer is still happy he will head to the workouts the following week.
He could be racing in three weeks.
Being nominated for the Cup means he will be in the first market opened by the TAB next Monday but Hill warns punters: "If anything goes wrong along the way, even something small, then we will pull the plug.
"But, at this stage, I'd say there is a good chance he will be there."
Hill is not so confident, though, with his other stable star and former Horse of the Year, Carabella.
She has had work duties reduced in her comeback from a tendon injury and Hill is starting to lose faith.
"She definitely won't be at Alexandra Park for the mares' races in December and I am now starting to think she might miss her main aim, the mares' races at Addington in the new year, too.
"The latest scan of her tendon two weeks ago wasn't bad but it wasn't great, so we are hopeful more than anything else with her."
Monkey King has won two New Zealand Cups (see videos) and also finished second ibehind Flashing red in 2007.
By Michael GUERIN (Courtesy of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD)
Monkey King winning the 2010 New Zealand Cup:
Monkey King winning the 2009 New Zealand Cup: