Methven harness racing driver Ricky May knows what it's all about to drive a good horse - and he got the feeling today (Tuesday September 18) that he was onto another.
The Mid Canterbury horseman was clearly wrapt with the feel given to him by New Zealand Trotting Cup defending champion Terror To Love in a stylish trial victory at Ashburton against three fellow Cup aspirants.
In what was only his second drive behind the imposing pacer, May said the speed which the five-year-old showed was quite impressive.
"It's the same sort of speed Monkey King used to show,'' he said.
"Those sorts of horses can pull off those really quick sectionals, but feel like they aren't going that quick.
"I never thought he would run past a horse likethe way he did.''
Four lengths off the leader at the 800 metre mark, Terror To Love will have run his last half in better than 55 seconds as he coasted away to a one and a half length victory over Sushi Sushi.
May was approached by Terror To Love's owner Terry McDonald to take the drive on the horse early this season with regular driver Jimmy Curtin unavailable due to his commitments with Franco Emirate and Anthony Butt and David Butt both in similar positions.
With Monkey King retired the five-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winning driver was more than happy to step in and fill the void.
"He's a pretty good catch drive really, such an effortless way of pacing and he is deceptively fast.
"There is a bit of pressure there being the defending champion, but you can't think about that too much.''
In behind the winner, Sushi Sushi continued his improvement with a solid second after beginning much better than he did at Motukarara last week to trail stable mate Highview Tommy for the duration of the 2400 metre heat.
All four pacers are expected to make their race track return at Addington next week when they contest the Avon City Ford Cup of which the winner gets an automatic entry into the $600,000 feature on November 13.
Champion trotter I Can Doosit also kicked into gear, improving on his second placing last week at the trials with a solid victory today. (Be sure to read a story on I Can Doosit's strapper Jeremy Markham on Harnesslink tomorrow.)
Untouched by driver and trainer Mark Purdon the reigning Horse Of The Year won by a nose from talented trotter Phil's Gift.
Purdon will begin I Can Doosit's season at Motukarara next Sunday when he tackles the D G Jones Trotting Cup.
TAB Bookie Steve Richardson will react to thisvery smarttrial of last year's NZ Cup winner and tighten Terror To Love in on the market. Richardson reported there was also a four-figure bet onthis morning.
Richardson also reported betting on the futures NZ Cup market has been buoyant. The TAB is already holding in excess of $30k.