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It was an emphatic statement made by star trotter Sundees Son when he dominated today’s (Friday) Gr.1 $270,000 Majestic Son Dominion at Addington. The reigning Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master sat without cover before racing away from his rivals in the 3200m stand start feature while establishing a new National record of 4:00.5. The previous mark was held by Monbet at 4:00.7 when successful in 2016. Prepared by Robert Dunn and handled by his son John, Sundees Son easily accounted for Majestic Man and Australian raider Tough Monarch in the opening leg of the 2020/21 APG Trotting Masters staged in Christchurch. Sent off as the punters elect, Sundees Son stepped safely before taking up a handy position outside of Majestic Lavros who found the lead from Majestic Man with Heavyweight Hero following on the peg line. The lead time was covered in 2:02.0. Despite a big field of 15 runners, moves were at a minimum with Dunn controlling the speed from his parked position. Majestic Lavros went through the opening half of the final mile in 29.9 and 29.8 seconds. The first move in the race came from Matua Tana who angled three-wide before making a gallop not long after as the speed improved quickly. Dunn called on Sundees Son and he quickly put away Majestic Lavros. The third quarter was covered in 28.1 seconds. As the field entered the home straight, Sundees Son sailed clear as Majestic Lavros broke under pressure while Majestic Man, Heavyweight Hero and Tough Monarch battled each other for the minor spoils. At the line, Sundees Son scored by a widening margin of 3.75 lengths over Majestic Man while Tough Monarch edged past Heavyweight Hero to snatch third. The final quarter was timed in 30.3 seconds. And the winning mile rate was 2:00.9. The Majestic Son – Stardon six-year-old has now claimed both major trotting features in his homeland following his victory in the Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park last year. Since 2000, the likes of Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, Martina H, I Can Doosit, Stig, Master Lavros and Monbet have claimed both staying features. The victory of Sundees Son provided the father/son combination their maiden victory in the country’s premier trotting event. It was ninth time lucky for John following previous efforts with Ella Powell (5th in 2009), The Fat Controller (3rd in 2010), Kincaslough (3rd in 2014), Kinscaslough (6th in 2015), Harriet Of Mot (7th in 2016), Harriet Of Mot (7th in 2017), Woodstone (15th – last in 2018) and Valloria (Disqualified last year). “It’s a team effort with this horse, there’s plenty that have played a role in this victory so it’s a massive thrill for all involved.” Driver John Dunn said. Sundees Son is raced by Colin and Nancy Hair.   Chris Barsby

By Jonny Turner    Sundees Son shone brightly at Addington on Friday, leaving his rivals chasing his shadow when he won the fastest ever running of the Dominion with perfect poise. The Robert Dunn trained trotter produced one of the most polished performances of his career to show New Zealand Cup week fans exactly how good he is when bolting away with the 3200m feature by nearly four lengths. The scare Sundees Son put into his legion of backers and that camp that prepares when galloping in his last start at Kaikoura him looked a distant memory when the six-year-old trotted off the mark to take up a handy early position. From there, driver John Dunn’s intentions looked clear – to keep his horse relaxed and out of trouble – and the reinsman was rewarded with New Zealand Trotting’s ultimate trophy. “After Kaikoura Johnny and I had a talk and we decided we had to take bad luck out of the equation,” Robert Dun said.  “Pres The Belle was keen and had to come off the fence, but it wasn’t long until Johnny decided to get around to sit parked.” “He is just such a beautifully relaxed horse outside the leader, he goes to sleep.” Sundees Son’s Dominion win was made possible by a family effort led by the Dunn’s father and son combination. John Dunn’s father-in-law Craig Edmonds also played a huge role in the horse’s record-breaking victory with his dedication. “Craig does all the shoeing with him and he takes him down to the beach all the time,” Dunn said. “We can show up at 5.30 in the morning and Craig is already gone with him, taking him down for a paddle in the water on his jog days.” “He loves the horse and Johnny obviously has a wonderful combination with him, too.” Sundees Son will now head to Auckland where he is set to take part in one of the biggest clashes in open class trotting in recent history. Trotting purists are set to be treated to a clash of two trotters with raw ability like few others in the past decade when Sundees Son will almost certainly take on speed machine Bolt For Brilliance in the Lyell Creek Stakes and National Trot at Alexandra Park. “He will go to Auckland next, he handles the Auckland way of going as good as he does going the Addington way,” Dunn said. Sundees Son’s Dominion victory topped an outstanding past 12 months for Robert Dunn and his team. The trainer notched both his 1500th career win in New Zealand and his first national premiership in the past year. During that time, Sundees Son has provided a few headaches for the Dunn camp and his breeder-owners, Colin and Nancy Hair. The squaregaiter went 12 months without trotting throughout an entire race and his tilt at last year’s Dominion had to be abandoned. “He tells us when he is not right and though he made a break at Kaikoura, it was because he had to take a slight bit of evasive action,” Dunn said. “And it doesn’t take much with him.” “The key to him is his soundness and when he is sound he is such a pleasure to have around the place.” Clearly, nothing was bothering Sundees Son on Friday as he trotted to victory in 4-00.5, taking 0.2sec off Monbet’s national 3200m record, set in his 2016 Dominion win. Sundees Son’s performance meant runner-up Majestic Man had to settle for yet another big race placing. Despite that trainer Phil Williamson was proud of his six-year-old “He gave it all he could, the winner is just a great, great horse.” “I am proud of him.” “He would have to be the best one I have had that hasn’t won a group 1.” Aussie raider Tough Monarch turned around two disappointing efforts in New Zealand when running into third, half a length behind Majestic Man. 

By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trotter Cracker Hill has raised more questions than he has answered leading in his final lead up event into Friday’s group 1 Dominion at Addington. Trainer-driver Brad Williamson handed his four-year-old a perfect run in the trial in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, which had his backers waiting eagerly for him to let down with a winning finish. But Cracker Hill’s finish peaked well short of expectations and he was caught and easily passed by Heavyweight Hero. Williamson does not want to take anything away from the winner’s effort but has been left disappointed in his stable star. “I was a little bit disappointed in him, but in saying that he did run second in a group 1 race.” “He was bolting in the trail and then when I came out at the top of the straight he just didn’t fire like he does.” “He ran past the other horses then he just didn’t change up his gear like he can.” “And I am not sure why that was.” “But in saying that the winner won well and was the best horse on the day.” Williamson has been left scratching his head as to exactly why Cracker Hill had an off day on Tuesday. Having such a fit and healthy horse in front of him has meant the trainer-driver has not found anything concrete. So, he is pressing on to the Dominion in the hope trotting fans can see the real Cracker Hill on Friday. “He potentially could have blown out the last bit, but I am not sure, to be honest.” “He is so healthy and well.” “So, we are heading into Friday hoping for an improved performance.” “He has got a good draw, so if he gets a good run hopefully he performs a little bit better.” Cracker Hill’s speed has never been questioned and he showed his explosiveness when reeling off brilliant sectionals in his two recent second placings behind Bolt For Brilliance. However, the four-year-old has not had much of a chance to display his staying qualities. Cracker Hill has had just one start past 2600m, finishing second to Matua Tana, who was in red hot form at the time. Williamson will go into the Dominion confident his horse can handle 3200m. “He is quite a laid back horse, he is obviously very fast.” “But he doesn’t let too much worry him, so I think he will settle and get the distance.” Williamson will compete against his father Phil and brothers Matthew and Nathan in the Dominion. Nathan trains and drives Dark Horse, while Phil and Matthew combine with Majestic Man. Like Cracker Hill, the favourite Sundees Son comes into the Dominion after disappointing in his last start. But for entirely different and much more obvious reasons. After stringing together two breath-taking wins at Addington, the Robert Dunn trained trotter again galloped in the South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura. Sundees Son’s driver John Dunn told HRNZ it was not a case of his horse simply rolling into a gallop like he has done in the past. Dunn put the incident to a combination of factors, including having to check off the back of a galloping Matua Tana. “We will turn the page and move on, he has come through that great.” “He worked really good [on Wednesday] – no ill-effect from it – so that is good.” The Dunn stable also start Woodstone and Pres The Belle in Friday’s $270,000 event.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Australian trainer Rickie Alchin is hoping Tough Monarch can replicate last year’s first-up winning heroics in New Zealand, just without the pre-race drama. Driver Anthony Butt gave Alchin heart palpitations the morning of the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All (1980m) on New Zealand Cup day last year when he nearly missed the race through a flight delay, however, he made it in the nick of time to steer the gelding to victory. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen there,” Alchin said. “Anthony rang me earlier that morning and said he was touch and go of whether he was going to make it. “I could have driven him, but I didn’t want to. As it turned out we didn’t need to go down that line because Anthony turned up. It was just one of those days, it was meant to be. There was a little bit of a hiccup but it all panned out really well.” With COVID-19 travel restrictions in place there won’t be a repeat episode when Tough Monarch contests the Majestic Son South Bay Trotters Cup (2400m) at Kaikoura on Monday. The son of Monarchy has been entrusted to the care of trainers Nathan Purdon and Chrissie Dalgety while in New Zealand and Alchin said he has settled in well to his Christchurch base. “He’s travelled over really well,” Alchin said. “Unfortunately I haven’t been able to travel over with him because of the COVID-19 restrictions. “Everyone is really happy with him. He got to Auckland on Sunday night to Josh Dickie’s place. “Josh worked him twice and he couldn’t be happier with him. He got down to Christchurch on Thursday afternoon to Nathan Purdon and he said he is bright and has settled in really well. “He has only travelled to New Zealand the once, but he is quite well-travelled in Australia. The trips don’t seem to worry him anymore. He is pretty cruisy when it comes to settling in.” Tough Monarch had three lead-in races in Australia for a win and two placings, including a third-placing behind Pink Galahs in the Gr.1 Bill Collins Trotters Sprint (1720m) at Melton on October 10. “I am really happy with him,” Alchin said. “I feel the horse is better than he was last year at the same time. He is really on his game.” That’s an ominous warning for Tough Monarch’s rivals on Monday, a race that wasn’t originally on the cards for his New Zealand campaign. “Kaikoura wasn’t always on the radar but we thought he needs a run, he hasn’t raced since the Group One down at Melton,” Alchin said. “Instead of going to the Cup Day trials we thought we might as well go around for some money.” Alchin is looking forward to tackling the quality field on Monday, which includes $1.80 Gr.1 Dominion Trot (3200m) favourite Sundees Son. “I have been following Sundees Son quite closely and he is going as good as he has ever gone. It will be tough,” Alchin said. “I also think a horse who is underrated is Heavyweight Hero. I think his runs have been really good and he is off the front. “It’s an interesting race and a tough race. My guy is going really well and they will know he is there.” All going to plan, Tough Monarch will head to Addington Raceway on Tuesday-week to try and defend his Trotting Free-For-All crown, and then back-up in the Dominion Trot on Show Day. “He will just have the three runs in New Zealand and then come home,” Alchin said.

John Dunn gave us an update on Sundees Son after he won a workout at Rangiora today! Also Phil Williamson gives an update on Dark Horse after her workout today see the video below!     Harness Racing New Zealand

Tango Tara has been the biggest mover in this week's IRT New Zealand Cup rankings after the five-year-old's third placing in the Canterbury Classic at Addington last Friday that guaranteed him a start in the race. The Jim Curtin-trained pacer has climbed from 21st to 5th place in the rankings. In the rankings for the Majestic Son Dominion Trot Overzealous made a significant move up the rankings list from 22nd to 16th with her meritorious third placing behind Sundees Son and Majestic Man in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. Please click here to view the updated Rankings for the IRT New Zealand Cup and the Majestic Son Dominion Trot.   HRNZ

The first Road to the Dominion update on Sundees Son with John Dunn   Harness Racing New Zealand

Reigning New Zealand Cup champion Cruz Bromac looks set to be back at Addington on November 10. The pacer is one of just two Australians, along with trotter Tough Monarch, to be included in the nominations for the week's two biggest features, the IRT New Zealand Cup and the Majestic Son Dominion Trot. 34 have been nominated for the Cup and 33 for the Dominion. Addington Raceway Racing Secretary Brian Rabbitt is pleased with the response, especially in a year which has been so adversely affected by COVID-19. The Cup numbers are the same as last year and the Dominion is down a few on last year. Notable absentees in the pacing ranks are recently-crowned Horse of the Year Ultimate Sniper and Chase Auckland (both injured) and Another Masterpiece and Princess Tiffany who are Australia-bound for other features and in the trotting ranks Oscar Bonavena (injured). "Cruz Bromac is likely to go straight to the Purdon/Rasmussen barn as he did last year," says Rabbitt. The only other Australian entry Tough Monarch placed second in the Dominion last year and there are some question marks about his return. "We know Rickie Alchin (trainer) would love to come over here again but he has to factor in travel restrictions so we can only wait and see," says Rabbitt. The first list of Cup rankings will be released next Thursday with many of the top open class contenders, including Cup favourite Self Assured, fronting up in Sunday's Hannon Memorial.     Dave Di Somma HRNZ

The new sponsors of New Zealand’s greatest trotting race could be forgiven for not being totally impartial as they watch it this November as champion trotting stallion Majestic Son will have plenty of his own representatives in the race that now carries his name. The $270,000 Majestic Son Dominion Trot will be held at Addington on November 13, universally known as Show Day and the second of Addington’s two mammoth Cup Week meetings. Majestic Son could have such superstars as Inter Dominion champion Winterfell, Rowe Cup winner Sundees Son, and current Dominion favourite Majestic Man in this year’s Dominion, and the stallion’s ownership group say they would love him to sire the winner of his own race. “That would be the ultimate for us and given the depth of his progeny hopefully heading for the race this year he’s certainly in with a chance,” says Canada-based owners' spokesman, Dave McDonald. “We are extremely proud of everything Majestic Son has achieved both on and off the race track. His record Down Under where he has been leading stallion multiple times reflects the standing Australasian breeders hold him in.” McDonald says “the sponsorship is a chance for Majestic Son’s ownership group to contribute back to trotting in New Zealand at a difficult time. It’s our opportunity to thank everyone for their great support of the horse. We all know the current Covid-19 situation around the world, so we feel supporting this race is a way of us investing back in the industry when many involved are doing it tough. We are acutely aware of the stature of the Dominion as the premier trotting event in New Zealand and that increased our desire to be involved. Since we joined with Alabar it has taken Majestic Son to a new level. Their professionalism and ability to promote the stallion has been world class.” Addington’s Racing Secretary, Brian Rabbitt said “It’s great to have Majestic Son as the sponsor of our most prestigious trotting race. He has made a huge impact on the sport and this has been recognised by his owners choosing to support their race.” The road to the Majestic Son Dominion Trot starts in earnest at Addington this Friday with the winner of the Alabar Ordeal Trotting Cup exempt for the ballot for the Dominion, as will be the winner of the Stevie Golding – Harcourts Canterbury Park Trotting Cup and the first three place getters in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All on IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup Day, November 10. Winterfell, as the Inter Dominion champion, is already guaranteed a start in the Majestic Son Dominion Trot. Markets for New Zealand’s richest trot are already open at tab.co.nz while tickets for Addington Cup Week go on sale this Thursday at 9.30am. Nominations for Majestic Son Dominion Trot close at 3pm (NZ time) on Wednesday 16 September. For any question on this media release, please contact Brian Rabbitt – brian.rabbitt@addington.co.nz.

Making a top-10 list is easy. Until you try and make a top-10 list and show it to other people. Especially when many of the people who are going to see your list know just as much, or more, about the subject than you do. Today HRNZ starts to revisit some of our great races with 10 of their best winners. Now we aren’t going to lie to you, these aren’t lists we compiled this week like the rest of the online content world struggling to fill space. These are lists Greg O’Connor and I came up with over the last couple of years on Trackside for the NZ Cup, Sires’ Stakes and for the Dominion, which we look at today. Going back and looking at some of the great winners of a race is a cool way to build anticipation of what is to come, who is going to add their name to the list so we compiled them to be run close to those iconic races. Initially, when Greg came up with the idea, it sounded easy enough: Name the top 10 Dominion wins of the last 40 years. But that is the key sentence. The top 10 wins, not winners. If the list was just winners then most of us would probably agree Lyell Creek has to top the list because he was almost certainly the best trotter to win the great Addington race in that time frame, and maybe ever. But here is something that will surprise you. When Lyell Creek won the Dominion in 1999 it was in a staggeringly slow 4:14.4, which would have put him almost 200m behind Monbet when he won in 2016. Of course times can be termed irrelevant but in an industry where they are so prominent they at least have to be taken into account right? And if they don’t really what, what else does? The class of horses a winner beat?  The nature of the victory? Did they overcome a handicap, which these days isn’t a factor but was for nine winners in a 13-year period starting in the 1990s. And your list might well be influenced by your heart as much as your head. Did you back a horse? Did somebody you know or like own, train or drive it? Or even something as simple as was that horse from your region. After all, a Southlander might think more fondly of David Moss than the mighty Auckland mare Merinai. Greg and I tried to exclude emotion and go on quality of opposition, the actual performance of the horse itself and with a small dose of times and maybe where the horse actually now sits in our memories. So take a look at one list, by no means definitive, of top of the great Dominion winners of recent decades. Top 10 Dominion Wins - 1 to 5   Top 10 Dominion Wins - 6 to 10   by Michael Guerin

An old-fashioned workload produced a new best version of Habibi Inta in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington yesterday. And after his graphic demolition job in our richest trot the big stallion has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals in the Inter Dominion Trotting series which starts at Alexandra Park in 13 days.  Habibi Inta made the most of a perfect Blair Orange drive and the early gallop of favourite Oscar Bonavena to bolt away with the group one, giving Orange the dream double of Cup week after his New Zealand Cup on Tuesday.  Already a group one winner at the Harness Jewels two seasons ago, Habibi Inta went to a whole new level yesterday and that was after some tough love from trainer extraordinaire Paul Nairn.  “After he won at Kaikoura last week I kept the work right up to him,” explains Nairn.  “I knew he would have to be fit, really fit for the 3200m and he handled the work beautifully.  “I thought he could win because he was so fit but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he could do that.”
 It was a career statement win from Habibi Inta as he sat off the hot speed set by Marcola and jogged past him at the top of the straight.  It was a dramatic reversal of their previous clash at Ashburton when Marcoola thrashed him by 13 lengths, showing how the right horse on the day wins the group ones this season. Nairn will now bring the big, muscular six-year-old to Auckland for an Inter Dominion where some of his key rivals have question marks hanging over their heads.  Aussie raider Tough Monarch was a brave second yesterday capping a great week while veteran Monty Python surged into third while Marcoola was out of gas at the top of the straight. Another Australian visitor in McLovin suffered a case of the thumps but should be good to go for the Inters, a series Oscar Bonavena will miss.  The latter was slightly checked into a gallop after 400m when horses galloped both inside and outside, leaving trainer-driver Mark Purdon enormously disappointed as he tailed off. Punters didn’t enjoy it much either.  But Purdon bounced back two races later when Chase Auckland made the most of the trail-passing lane run to win the $200,000 NZ Free-For-All. A brave and luckless fourth in the NZ Cup three days earlier, Chase Auckland got all the luck this time as he was destined to be three back on the inside but Cruz Bromac galloped when heading to the lead, which left Classie Brigade in front and Chase Auckland in the luxury spot.  All the main players from the F-F-A will head to the Inter Dominions where they will be met by a fresh wave of Australians.   Michael Guerin

When reflecting about New Zealand Cup week of 2019, it is best summed in two simple words – Blair Orange. Fresh from his success on Tuesday when he landed his maiden New Zealand Cup success aboard the All Stars prepared Cruz Bromac, the country’s leading reinsman has now collected his maiden Dominion trophy after guiding Habibi Inta to a runaway victory in the 3200m stand start feature. Habibi Inta scored decisively when defeating Australian Tough Monarch and Monty Python while the heavily fancied Oscar Bonavena and defending champion Marcoola were unplaced. Orange becomes the first driver since Anthony Butt to complete the Cup/Dominion double in the same week after Butt triumphed with Flashing Red and Mountbatten back in 2007. Partnering with masterful trainer Paul Nairn, a dual winner of the great race and a trainer who is not frightened to adopt unorthodox training techniques to gain the best from his team of trotters, the duo landed the Gr.1 $300,000 Airpark Canterbury Dominion at Addington today (Friday). After securing the Gr.3 South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura at his most recent start, connections deliberately bypassed Tuesday’s Gr.1 $100,000 Free-For-All in preference for today’s feature and the decision was rewarded in spades. Habibi Inta stepped slowly but safely and landed a handy position with Destiny Jones finding the marker pegs first before handing over to Australian trotter McLovin who in turn released Marcoola to the lead. Ultimately, Habibi Inta landed the one out/one back trail when finding the back of Didjabringthebeers. Oscar Bonavena made a crucial break soon after the start and was never a winning factor thereafter. The lead time was covered in 2:01.5. The pressure was intense with Marcoola rolling strongly in front; he trotted the first half of the final mile in splits of 30.3 and 29.9 seconds. Heading down the back straight for the final time, Marcoola continued at a solid speed while McLovin sat in the trail with Habibi Inta behind him after Didjabringthebeers dropped off. Passing the 400m marker, the third split was covered in 29.6 seconds. Entering the home straight, Marcoola tried to kick away while both Habibi Inta and Tough Monarch both came with their runs. Habibi Inta quickly surged past Marcoola and opened up a margin on Tough Monarch while veteran performer Monty Python made late ground to grab third placing, both Marcoola and McLovin weakened over the latter stages. At the line, Habibi Inta scored by a widening 7.5 lengths over Tough Monarch while Monty Python was a further 4.5 lengths away in third. The winning time was 4:02.1 – a mile rate of 2:01.7 with a final split of 30.3 seconds. For Orange, it simply caps a dream week. “I honestly can’t believe it, I thought Tuesday was unbelievable but this is a very special feeling and for some great people too. I’ve probably never felt more confident so far from home than today, he was trotting great.” Orange said. Habibi Inta takes his record to 11 wins from 36 starts while his earnings sit below $400,000. The victory provides Nairn with his third winner of the Dominion after previous victories with Call Me Now (1995) and Stig (2008). Habibi Inta is raced by Julie Maghzal who bred the horse in partnership with Gaby; the six-year-old is a son of Love You and from the grand producing Sundon mare Ten To One. The next leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $150,000 Inter Dominion in Auckland at Alexandra Park on December 14.   Chris Barsby

By Garrick Knight New Zealand’s leading driver capped an unforgettable week with victory in the country’s biggest trotting race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange, three days removed from winning the New Zealand Cup, pulled off another double-figure-priced upset when Habibi Inta blew his opponents off the track in the $300,000 Dominion Trot. Orange combined with trainer Paul Nairn in victory and paid tribute to the master trainer of trotters post-race. “He’s an outstanding trainer; it’s just like when you drive for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen). “His horses are fit and healthy and they just trot beautifully and I’m just a lucky guy to be sitting here.” Habibi Inta was a last-start winner at Kaikoura but punters preferred Purdon and Rasmussen’s boom four-year-old, Oscar Bonavena. But he struck trouble on the first bend and took no further part. Second favourite Marcoola, hunting back-to-back wins in the race, led up but couldn’t muster any more down the straight as Habibi Inta cleared out. “Going in to the race, I never thought we could beat Oscar Bonavena or Marcoola,” said Orange. “I thought we could run second or third. But once again it comes down to Paul’s ability to have them ready on the day. “We got a bit of luck and the horse did the rest.” Nairn was typically under-stated after adding yet another Group 1 to his record, and a third Dominion after Call Me Now in 1995 and Stig in 2008. “I’m thrilled. “He’s been working sensational but I thought there were four or five good winning chances in the race. “I kept the work up to him after Kaikoura because I knew he’d have to go very well, and it worked.” Julie Maghzal owns the Love You stallion and was in shock shortly after receiving the trophy. “I can’t believe we’ve won it, I just can’t believe we’ve won it,” she said gazing with amazement at the grandiose trophy. “I’m absolutely thrilled and elated to see him do what I always knew he was capable of. “He’s been nurtured all the way by the nicest, most lovely man you could ever have dealings with. “Paul and I have been together in racing for a long, long time.” Maghzal is in love with Habibi Inta and says he will stand as a stallion one day, privately if not commercially. “He’s a beautiful, beautiful animal and a very solid trotter and I’ll definitely be breeding from him later on. “His sister, Habibti Ivy, just had a wee filly by Father Patrick a few days ago so it’s been a great week. “I’m just so happy to have everyone here to share the day with me; my brother, daughter, all my family and friends. “To win this race means so much – and I was just happy to have a horse in it.” The final word went to Orange, who acknowledged former mentor Mike Austin in his speech. “My first thought when I crossed the line was my late mate Mike Austin. “I drove a lot of trotters for him and I know he’d be so proud. Thanks MG.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Sheree Tomlinson has an unusual concern leading into today’s $300,000 Dominion with defending champion Marcoola at Addington. She is worried about her favourite horse and her mother. Tomlinson is the new driver of Marcoola, who was jaw-dropping winning this race coming from near last last season and just as spectacular in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last start. Marcoola faces excitement machine Oscar Bonavena as well as the rock-hard fit Australian pair of Tough Monarch and McLovin in New Zealand’s greatest trotting race. But while Tomlinson is excited about steering the brilliant stallion today, she is worried about his stablemate Amaretto Sun, who gave her her greatest moment in harness racing when he won this race at massive odds two years ago. Marcoola starts from barrier one and Amaretto Sun right next to him and Tomlinson says while she loves her old mate she doesn’t want Amaretto Sun, to be driven her mother Amanda, to get in front of her and in her way. “To be honest I’d rather the draws were reversed and Mum was starting from barrier one and me from barrier two,” laughs Tomlinson. “Because he (Amaretto Sun) can get away really fast and I don’t want him crossing us and me getting stuck behind him. “I am not a big fan of barrier one in 3200m standing starts anyway because the horses out wide can get a jump on you but he (Marcoola) is actually very good from behind the tapes early. “So I am hoping if we do great crossed we can get away from the inside early.” Two years ago when Amaretto Sun won Tomlinson had the luxury of driving him for luck but with Marcoola the second favourite and at his most dynamic when he gets a head of steam up, she will launch him at some stage. Exactly when that will be could depend on when Oscar Bonavena makes his move from the back. The latter has been dazzling all season and the last start wins of the pair at Ashburton, both in national records, were comparable. “It is a different situation from two years ago, more pressure this time, but I think the Australians being in the field will help because they should force the pace, which will help us.” Oscar Bonavena might be world class and jogs national record times and sizzling splits and he might simply be too good for his rivals today, even after giving away a start from the unruly. “I am happy to have him back there because I think it should ensure he goes away and then we settle for maybe even the first half of the race,” says his trainer-driver Mark Purdon. As good as Oscar Bonavena is, and he might be the real deal, is Marcoola races up to last year’s form it could be the race of the carnival, especially with the Aussies added to the mix following their group one quinella on Tuesday. While Purdon looks likely to sit and swoop in today’s big trot punters can expect his speedsters to light up early in the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. Cruz Bromac returns to defend the title he won last season when he blasted to the lead and set his own terms and he looks to have the gate speed to cross to the front again but the key to the race will be whether he would hand the pacemaking role to Spankem. Both are dynamic front runners over sprint trips and if Spankem wrests the lead off Cruz Bromac he becomes the one to beat, although that would still give the latter the passing lane late. If Cruz Bromac leads and Spankem sits parked outside him or further back then Tuesday’s Cup winner could claim the dream double.   Michael Guerin

Fresh from their blistering one-two finish in yesterday's Trotting Free For All, Tough Monarch and McLovin have drawn front row starts in Friday's Airpark Canterbury Dominion. The $300,000 Group 1 - the richest trot race in Australasia - will launch from the standing start at 2.38pm ADST, with Tough Monarch drawing gate six and McLovin gate 10, but with two emergencies on their inside. McLovin's trainer Andy Gath told Sky Racing they "were really proud of him and he's pulled up really good, so we are looking forward to Friday now". "You travel this far and you always want your horse to perform well and he performed really well," Gath said. "The standing start over two-mile is completely different to what we had today, so far to us it looks like he's pulled up well, he'll be raring to go on Friday." Leading local fancies Marcoola (gate one) and Oscar Bonavena (gate 17) emerged at opposite ends of the draw, with the latter off the unruly. Friday's card at Addington also includes the Woodlands NZ Pacing Free For All, which will feature Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's trio Cruz Bromac (gate 6), Spankem (gate 7) and Thefixer (gate 9), who are coming off respective first, second and fifth placings in yesterday's New Zealand Trotting Cup.   HRV Trots Media

CHAMPION driver Anthony Butt has landed the plum drive on star Aussie trotter Tough Monarch through NZ Cup Week and the Auckland Inter Dominion. Trainer Rickie Alchin, who arrived in NZ with Tough Monarch yesterday (Wednesday), said he was thrilled to have Butt aboard.  “I wanted a top Kiwi driver, one who has the score on the board in big races over here,” he said. “Anthony might be based in Sydney now, but his record in the big NZ races is outstanding. It’s great to have him driving for us.”  Butt now has drives in at least three major races during Cup Week, having already been confirmed for the Aussie-owned Line Up in the 3YO Sires Stake final.  “It was exciting to get the call-up to drive Line Up for Emilio (Rosati, owner) and now for Rickie and owners to give me the drive on Tough Monarch is terrific,” Butt said. “I’d originally planned to take Emilio’s trotter Lily Stride across, but she didn’t go well enough last Sunday at Menangle. “I’ll stay the week for the Cup, I’ve already picked up another drive during the week as well. "As far as the Inter Dominion goes, I guess I’ll stay that first week for the heats and take it from there.”  Alchin said Tough Monarch had settled well in NZ  “He handled he trip well and it’s good to get across nice an early,” he said. “As planned, he’ll go the Cup trials next week to top him off for the free-for-all on Cup Day,” he said.   by Adam Hamilton

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