Day At The Track

Murray Tapper is loving every magical moment

02:05 AM 27 Dec 2010 NZDT
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Trainer Murray Tapper & the owner of
Trainer Murray Tapper & the owner of - Stylish Monarch, Anne Patterson celebrate their Dominion win
ODT photo

Levels harness racing trainer Murray Tapper is loving every magical moment being provided by his talented trotter Stylish Monarch. The son of Monarchy was simply superb when winning the Group two Trotters Flying Mile at Cambridge on Friday night.

Fill-in driver Richard Brosnan took the reins behind the seven year old and after being forced to work over-time during the last half of the race, was still far too good for the opposition which included local star Sovereignty who finished a length away in second spot, the pair were well clear of the rest of the field.

The winning time of 1.57.5 was well outside the New Zealand record of 1.55.6 set by the great Lyell Creek, but it was the arrogant manner in which the win was achieved that impressed all including the horse's trainer. "He didn't get the easiest of runs and still got the job done, Richard said he felt like he could have gone another lap," Tapper said. Brosnan and Tapper go way back and the win was just reward for the man who helped to shape Murray Tapper as a horseman. "We've been family friends for close to 30 years and he treats my horse like one of his own, I really enjoyed giving him the drive."

"I knew we'd have to move at some stage during the race and Richard drove him perfectly to plan," says Tapper. "They went hard early and I thought, they've got to come back to us." Come back they did with Sovereignty leading the charge through the first half in 57.7, the early pace playing right into the hands of a patiently waiting Richard Brosnan on board Stylish Monarch. Punters developed a short-term memory lapse letting the Dominion Handicap winner and 3200m New Zealand record holder (4.02.9) slide dangerously on the tote, returning loyal pundits odds of 13 to one.

"I couldn't believe how much they let him go on the tote, I thought there's no way he should be paying that sort of money, I even told the owner to go and back him." A last start mistake by the super-reliable square-gaiter may have been responsible for the longer than usual odds, but driver error may well have contributed on that occasion according to Tapper. "Ricky openly admitted it was his fault, he doesn't make many mistakes but that night he let him get too far back from the mobile. He's not quite as good that way around and he had to chase him round the bends. He was a bit short and had a few niggles also, so he wasn't quite 100% either," says Tapper.

"He's not as brilliant as some but he's just a faultless trotter, he can sustain his speed for long periods and doesn't mind getting into a dog fight. He sticks his neck out and knows where the line is. I know it won't last forever but we're really enjoying the moment and I think the horse deserves the recognition." The winner of 14 races and $350,000 in stake earning will next race at Alexandra Park on New Year's Eve, the Group One National Trot carrying a purse of $80,000.

Steve DOLAN

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