Don’t expect last Friday’s Addington feature trot winner – Phil’s Gift – to line up in the Group One $200,000 Dominion Trot on Show Day (November 15).
Trainer Murray Tapper said he preferred to start the Sundon gelding in the Free-For-All on Cup Day (November 12).
“I’ll talk to the owners again but they know how I feel. I’d rather start him in the shorter race on Cup Day than I would the Dominion.
“There’s no way he could back up in three days for both. He’s not that type of horse. Racing can take a lot out of him and he can take some time to recover. The 3200m is a bit far for him at this stage,” Tapper said.
“I think he would be a better Dominion horse in 13 months,” added the Timaru horseman.
Tapper said the 6-year-old bay had to be driven with a sit and that’s exactly what Ricky May did on Friday.
“He has won in front before but as he’s gone through the grades it’s got harder, and I’ve now trained him to have one sprint at them.
“It’s a tougher class opposition now and I’ve had to adjust my trainer because of that. He’s got a very good sprint when saved for the run. That was evident on Friday,” Tapper said.
May had Phil’s Gift second last early and swinging for home were still in that position with favourite Escapee snookered last on the markers.
They both flew down the outer with Phil’s Gift hanging on to beat Escapee and Mark Purdon by half a head. Raydon and David Butt were 2-1/2 lengths back in third.
They won the $7,500, C3 and faster trot in 3:23.2. Mile rate for the 2600m stand: 2:05.7. Last 800m: 59.8. Last 400m: 28.9.
Phil’s Gift started from the 40m back-mark and was the $5.80 third favourite.
That was his ninth win in 33 starts and he’s also placed eight times for $76,997.
Tapper paid $16,000 for him at the Christchurch yearling sales.
He said he was easily the best of the 12 horses he had in work at Levels in South Canterbury, but said Phil’s Gift had some way to go to surpassing the best trotter he’s trained – the recently retired Stylish Monarch, and Group One winning 10-year-old son of Monarchy, who has won 17 races and $500,620.
“Phil’s Gift has more speed but Stylish Monarch is a tougher grinder who can churn out solid quarters.
“We’ll see exactly where Phil’s Gift is at when he lines up on Cup Day. He would make a good Australian horse and that could be an option down the track but for now it’s all about progressing through to compete with the best,” the 50-year-old said.
Phil’s Gift is owned by K.P. Tapper, R.L.P. Scott, P.F. Parker, and M. L. Hynes. He was bred by Colin and Rona McKay.
He is the seventh foal of eight out of the one-win Speedy Summit mare, Ilona Del. Phil’s Gift’s full sister (and fourth foal), Jasmyn’s Gift won 17 races, including the Group One New Zealand Trotting Championship and New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All.
Phil’s Gift’s biggest win to date was the $25,000 Group Three Glenferrie Farm Trotters Championship in March.
Friday’s win was his second race back since finishing fifth behind Charlemagne in the Harness Jewels final at Ashburton in June.
Exciting trotter Experiment heading to Addington
Exciting Southland trotter, Experiment will head to Addington Raceway to compete in two mid-graded races on Cup and Show Day.
The 5-year-old Sundon mare confirmed the trip north when notching up her third win in a row and fourth in five starts this season at the Riverton Trotting Club’s meeting on Sunday (November 3).
The Tony Barron trained Experiment blitzed her opposition with an effortless front-running display in the in the $8,000 Never Cleaver Fishing discretionary for the C1 and faster trotters.
She has also won at the Wairio, Gore, and Forbury Park meetings this season, after racing 12 times in 2012-2013 for just two placings.
Errol Forde (72) owns Experiment with his partner Jan Hawthorn (68). The retired Makarewa resident said now that his mare had turned the corner she would definitely now be heading to Christchurch.
“I’m still on a high. I’ve had horses since the 1980s but never had one this good. I would never have ever thought I’d have a horse good enough to win three races in a row.
“She will now head north and take on some of the best in her grade. One day, maybe two years, I’d like to think she could make a Dominion horse. That is one race I’d really like to win,” Forde said.
He said Experiment had been a work in progress and it now appeared that Barron had ironed out most of her issues.
“We had a bit of trouble with her early on. She had a few bad habits, but with training, time and age she has developed into a nice trotter.
“We are hoping she will go on with it now she has won four races,” Forde said.
Brent Barclay got Experiment away quickly from her 10m handicap on Sunday and then when they hit the front at the 2000m, the race was for second.
Experiment simply out-trotted her 12 opponents, stopping the clock in 3:34.8 (2700m stand) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60 and 28.9. Her winning mile rate was 2:08. She was the $3.60 favourite.
Forde and Hawthorn have two-and-a-half years left on their four-year lease. Then then have right of purchase from breeder Michael House.
“She’s still got plenty of time and there’s plenty of improvement left in her yet,” said Forde who does a bit of work with his pride and joy.
Forde, who worked in the engineering trade, retired to Makarewa from Nightcaps and assisted Ron Barron there before he retired.
“Ron asked me if I wanted to buy Experiment and it all went from there. That’s how Tony ended up with her,” Forde said.
He said Experiment’s racing future would not be decided until after her race on Show Day.
“That’s when we will sit down and plan her racing. Auckland could be an option over Christmas because Tony has campaigned horses up there before.
“I’ve never had a horse good enough to race up there. It is a possibility, but like I said it all depends how she fronts up in Christchurch,” Forde said.
Experiment has now won just under $20,000 from her 18 starts, which includes four wins and three placings.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)