In Sydney.--- After a day of pacing gloom, the New Zealand heroics came from a forgotten star at Menangle.
While New Zealand’s pacing elite were ruthlessly dismantled by their Australian rivals in their six group one clashes yesterday, Kiwi-owned trotter Keystone Del defended his title in the A$200,000 Glenferrie Farm Trot, albeit flying the Australian flag.
And it caused quite a scene in the small Waikato village of Motumaoho.
Keystone Del was racing as part of the five-strong Australian team in the Trot as he is trained in NSW by former Auckland horsewoman Nicole Molander.
Her and husband Dean also shares in the ownership of the eight-year-old with Waikato brothers Mick and Pat Hall, whose son Tim used to train Keystone Del.
“I won two with him over here, both at Manawatu, but we thought he would be better suited to Menangle because he likes the speed on all the way,” said Tim.
“So he is still very much a family horse and when he won this race last season we were thrilled but to do it again is unbelievable.”
None of the Halls travelled to Menangle to see the race, not wanting to jinx Keystone Del, but when Hall started yelling in his lounge at the top of the straight he is pretty sure he got the attention of his Motumaoho neighbours.
Keystone Del downed Canterbury trotter Stent, who was luckless, but the NZ favourite Master Lavros lost his chance with an early gallop.
Little went right for the huge New Zealand team as yesterday’s A$2million meeting, with Adore Me the most surprising defeat.
She was trapped three wide from the 1200m till hitting the lead at the 300m but was gunned down late into second, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon citing the fast time on the then wet track.
Her stablemate Willow raced below her best when fading to third in the NSW Oaks while Isaiah was brave in third in the NSW Derby after sitting parked.
And the New Zealanders simply didn’t fire in the Chariots of Fire, with Franco Nelson, Elios and Border Control all unplaced.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing NZ)