After emphatic wins at Alexandra Park on March 21 and April 4 Sovereignty’s season has come to an abrupt end meaning a third tilt at the prestigious Rowe Cup on May 9 has had to be abandoned.
The Sean McCaffrey trained and Charlie (ONZM) & Annette Hunter owned 9-year-old came right into Rowe Cup calculations with three wins and five placings from 12 starts this season, but the plug was pulled last week – just hours before he was expected to line up in the third annual Anzac Cup.
Hunter said he was disappointed that Sovereignty would now be spelled for the remainder of the season, but said the welfare of the 2007-2008 Trotter-Of-The-Year always came first.
“We discovered a corn in his foot after he trained at Te Awamutu last week. We swam and jogged him on Thursday morning and then on Friday he was lame.
“The vet looked at him again and we decided without a race under his belt it would be too big a mission for him to start against the best in a two mile race,” said owner Charlie Hunter.
Sovereignty finished 9th in the time honoured event last year when ninth favourite, and in 2011 he was fourth when fifth favourite.
The Monarchy gelding would have been vying for his third Group One victory since embarking on his racing career back on September 21, 2007.
Hunter said it was a shame that he now won’t be able to claim his second Rowe Cup Jenner gave victory in the great race in 1984. John Langdon drove him that night because Hunter was still recovering from a smash he suffered in the New Zealand Derby.
“He will be brought back in the spring and is likely to make a hit-and-run assault on the Dominion Handicap at Addington in November.
“In hindsight we stayed down there too long last year. This time I think we will just head down for the big race and then come home.
“He’s had a few injuries in his career and we want to look after him during his 10-year-old season,” Hunter said.
Meanwhile McCaffrey said there was no point going into a big race like the Rowe Cup “half cooked” and withdrew his nomination today (Thursday May 1).
“He’ll go out to the paddock now and will tell us when he’s ready to race again. There’s no way you can bring a horse like this back to a race like the Rowe Cup when he’s not ready.
“For that to happen we really needed to start him last week. It’s a shame but it’s the best decision we could make for him,” McCaffrey said.
Sovereignty has now banked $780,386 in 94 starts. He’s won 28 races and also placed 34 times. Two of those victories have come in Group One events - the Group One 3yo Northern Trotting Derby in 2008, and the Group One National Trot in 2010. He also won the then Listed 3yo Harness Jewels ruby Final in 2008 and has also placed in several Group One and Two events.
He was bred by Roydon Lodge.
By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)