Day At The Track

Trainer pulls pin after pleasant surprise

05:49 AM 01 Aug 2017 NZST
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Harness Jewels winner Enghien
2017 3YO Jewels winner Enghien.
HRNZ Photo

A pleasant surprise from the handicapper has ended Enghien's Australian assault before it began.

The champion three-year-old trotter was supposed to be heading to Victoria this week for Sunday's A$75,000 Victoria Derby and then the Breeders Crown later in the month, two group ones he would have been the red hot favourite for.

But trainer Greg Hope has pulled the pin on the trip after discovering Enghien will be better treated than expected in the rating system this season.

"We have found out he will come back as a rating 85 horse because the rating will be capped at the end of his three-year-old season [yesterday]," says Hope.

"Initially I thought he would come back rated like a 110 or something and to me that meant his four-year-old season would have been almost a write off so it made sense to go to Australia for these last two races.

"But with the handicapping being capped now he can come back on a realistic mark next season so we will definitely race him at four now."

Hope and his wife Nina still could have taken Enghien to Victoria but say lessons learned with superstar stablemate Monbet have them erring on the side of caution.

"I think you can over-race them when they are young and still developing.

"He is mucking around at the stable here now and when the weather improves he will have a good break, maybe until December."

That will come as a huge relief to the trainers of his Australian rivals as Enghien was as short at $1.20 with some bookies for the Breeders Crown.

While Enghien is heading for a break, Monbet continues to thrill Hope as he edges toward his return.

"He has been jogging for nearly two months and I am rapt with him," said Hope. "Obviously we had him operated on to get some bone chips out and the way he is behaving now I think they might have been bothering him a lot longer than we realise.

"His attitude is the best it has ever been. He seems really happy."

Monbet is being aimed at the Flying Mile at Ashburton in October before defending his Dominion title at Cup week but the Hopes still plan to restrict him to a six to eight-start season. "I think if we don't over-tax him we can get two or three more seasons out of him."

Reprinted with permission of The New Zealand Herald

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