Day At The Track

Watch the Monkey and Reactor, say trainers

06:54 PM 15 Oct 2011 NZDT
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The TAB might have eased the New Zealand Cup odds for Kiwi favourites Monkey King and Auckland Reactor after they were beaten at Addington on Friday night but neither of their harness racing trainers are hitting the panic button.

Bookies reacted to Monkey King's seemingly poor 13th behind Terror To Love by letting him out to $7 for the November 8 showdown and Auckland Reactor was eased even further to $8 when he could manage only sixth.

But both trainer Benny Hill and Mark Purdon warned punters not to read too much into the runs, pointing to the hectic tempo of the race which saw Terror To Love down Smiling Shard with closing sectionals of 56.5 and 26.6, making it virtually impossible for the two big guns to make serious inroads from well back in the field.

"It was a bit of a non event for Monkey," Hill said yesterday of the race, which saw the horse finish 7.8 lengths from the winner. "He stepped super, which was a big positive, but after that it was a yucky race. Ricky [May] said he steered well and felt good.

"I would have liked Monkey to have run on a bit closer but he was pushed very wide on the home turn and with the sectionals they were running, that was a bit much to ask. "

The Star-Times clocked Monkey King to run his last 2400m in a sizzling 2:54.8, with his last mile in 1:54.4, showing just how fast he was really travelling.

Auckland Reactor did even better, just 3.7 lengths from Terror To Love, a placing which Purdon said he was initially disappointed with after the horse's explosive first-up win two weeks earlier.

"I thought I might have come off [Highview] Tommy's back better but on reflection it was hard to expect much more.

"I knew Monkey King was on my back and when I was told he didn't make up ground, I felt better."

When the Reactor scored at his previous start, he clocked 3:15.9, more than three seconds slower than the 3:12.7 recorded by Terror To Love who is now the new cup second fancy at $4.50.

The Star-Times clocked Auckland Reactor to pace his last 2400 metres in a blazing 2:53.6, with his last mile run in 1:54 flat, 800 in 55.2 and 400 in 26.8.

Purdon said while Auckland Reactor threw a shoe in the running, it did not hamper him - "He paced freely all the way, I don't even know when he lost it."

Best of all from a cup point of view, the Reactor again handled himself well from the standing start, despite a hold-up seeing him get on to his wrong foot.

Trainer Cran Dalgety was happy enough with new third cup favourite Smiling Shard ($6) who "went well but just found one better on the night".

But Dalgety thought stablemate Bettor's Strike ($26) was entitled to run third with the run he enjoyed, not fifth, and he is still unsure whether the horse will regain his best again after a near fatal attack of Colitis-X 15 months ago.

"I can't fault his general well-being but he may have mental issues - we need to convince him that he's not hurting so he'll exert himself fully."

Raging cup favourite, Aussie champion Smoken Up ($2.80) was due to contest the $A75,000 Gold Coast Cup (2100m) late last night.

Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times



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