Glenferrie Challenge starts next month

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Some slight tweeking to trotting’s hottest new race looks set to benefit New Zealand’s trotting elite.

Alexandra Park will host the $200,000 Anzac Cup on April 27 as the middle leg of a triple crown named the Glenferrie Challenge.

The three-race series will start with the $25,000 Greenlane Cup on April 20 and culminate in the $150,000 Rowe Cup on May 4.

But it is the Anzac Cup which will prove the most fascinating as it is rare a race worth so much is developed out of nowhere.

The concept is the brainchild of big-spending Australian owner Peter Chambers, who has arrived on the harness racing scene like a hurricane.

Peter_ChambersChambers has already heavily invested in harness racing including buying top line New Zealand stock but has a particular love for trotters.

Dismayed to see the end of the Interdominion Trotting Championships this year he has put up huge sponsorship money for a race which was to have been called the Trans Tasman Challenge.

The initial idea was for the five best trotters from both Australia and New Zealand to be invited to contest the annual race, with each country hosting in alternate years.

That struck a slight teething problem this year with Australia’s open class trotting ranks being hit by the retirement of Sundon’s Gift and injury to Let Me Thru, leaving them short on elite level representation.

But rather than be perturbed by the prospect of a smaller Australian assault and uneven teams, Chambers has worked with Harness Racing New Zealand to change the conditions, and name, of the new race for this year.

So the Trans Tasman Challenge has become the Anzac Cup and been extended to 13 starters over 2200m mobile.

The winner of the Greenlane Cup will be guaranteed entry as well as the three leading Australian trotters who want to come to Auckland for the  race. The balance of the field will be made up of nine New Zealand trotters based on rankings, which will be updated weekly.

That means up to a dozen New Zealand trotters could get the chance to race for $200,000 in a race that didn’t exist until a few weeks ago.

The race is expected to rivert to being called the Trans Tasman Challenge with the five best trotters from each country being invited when held at Menangle next year.

“This is a wonderful initiative between Peter Chambers and harness racing authorities and we are thrilled the connections of our top trotters are going to have it to aim at,” said HRNZ boss Edward Rennell.

“And the triple crown idea will really focus attention on Alexandra Park for that fortnight, especially with the Taylor Mile, Messenger Championship and a host of other age group features on.”

While Australian representation will be small this year one of the forgotten names of trotting could be a surprise entry.

Former trotting sensation Skyvalley has spent two years at stud but is back in work with Chris Lang and is being cautiously aimed at the Anzac Cup and Rowe Cup.

The first rankings for the New Zealand trotters for the Anzac Cup are.—

I Can Doosit (1), Vulcan (2), Dr Hook (3), Sovereignty (4), Stylish Monarch (5), Springbank Richard (6), The Fiery Ginga (7), Raydon (8), Clover Don (9), Musgrove (10), With Intent (11), Stig (12), King Charlie (13), Springfield Hero (14), Burano (15), Lleyton H (16), BeatThe Monarch (17), Neville Vaughan (18), Fayanni (19), Idid It Myway (20).

Courtesy of Michael Guerin, HRNZ