HRNZ Media Bites, Feb. 5, 2012

J Scott Latest News


Late bloomer dominant in Hunter Cup: Interesting to see that last week’s Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish did not start racing until he was a four-year-old. In that time he was developed by Dean Taylor, enjoyed good early success before being sold to his current owners for a big-ticket price. In his Australian campaign alone this season Mah Sish has banked an approximate NZ$525k.

(Mister) Zion story of the week: Kiwi export (Mister) Zion truly won the hearts of many race fans last week when he beat Dr Hook in the Australasian Trotting Championship at Melton. He joined a prestigious group of one (that we know of) that has won at Group One level as a pacer and a trotter. The only other time this has happened has been Wrackler. He won the NZ Cup in 1930 before changing gaits and winning the Dominion Handicap in 1932. Of course the big Red River Hanover horse won the SA Cup in 2010 over Smoken Up, capping a meteoric rise through the ranks. Then things turned for him a bit but reincarnated as a trotter he’s been a sensation. Remembering too; a bizarre quirk of the Australian rules that means if you change gaits you can’t go back to scratch to start again, as you can in New Zealand. So Mister Zion has done it from the top level all the way – a truly tremendous show of guts and courage. It’s been seven wins from 20 starts as a trotter and now he’s odds on to be in the Australian team to compete in the Glenferrie Farm Challenge in Sydney.  

Kiwi team named for Glenferrie Farm Challenge: The five New Zealand trotters to run against the best five Australia has to offer in the Glenferrie Farm Challenge Trot on Sunday March 3 have been found. The New Zealand selection panel has chosen I Can Doosit, Stig, Dr Hook, Escapee and The Fiery Ginga as its Dream Team, with Sovereignty being the reserve.

The A$200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge will be staged at Menangle and will add further glitz to one of the all-time great days of harness racing Australia. Already locked into the programme are an Inter Dominion Final, Chariots of Fire, NSW Derby, NSW Oaks, Ladyship Stakes and Bohemia Crystal FFA. New Zealand can expect to have strong representation in most races on the exceptional race card.

Christen Me right on path for Chariots Of Fire: With his sterling second to Terror To Love, Christen Me must have surely inched closer to a run in the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire on Sunday March 3. To push the best pacer in New Zealand, right now, to half-a-length and run a slashing sub 26-second 400m alongside the champ suggests when dropping back to his age in Australia he’d be as competitive as any around. Smolda though in his win at Melton on Saturday night sounded a warning. How about racing three-wide without cover for the majority of the 1720m mobile journey and recording a winning mile rate of 1.52.6?

Mile day at Ashburton Saturday including several features: The racing will be action-packed and of a high standard at Ashburton this Saturday. The time honoured Sapling Stakes and Hambletonian Classic for the 3YO Trotters will be the highlights but a good day for the harness sport is in the offing. The club has attracted a nice FFA field, he biggest since the races inception a few years ago. The final of the Christian Cullen Mares Speed Series has assembled a very even yet strong field. Mark Purdon is back in the country to partner some exciting horses including the unbeaten Adore Me and there will be much intrigue surrounding the running of the Sapling Stakes with so many unknowns. Provided the weather is fine there is the live prospect of some NZ Records, especially with 3YO Trotters, given Royal Aspirations is in the race. His 2YO record set at the Jewels is quicker than the current 3YO marks.

Who’s headlining for NZ in the USA: The attached spreadsheet with this email shows the nine fastest NZ-bred horses in the USA last year. It’s an interesting list and the full list of NZ winners in the USA will be published on in due course. The nine Kiwi-breds that ran 1.50 or better last year in the USA were: Foreclosure, Mainland Key, Bondy, Royal Cee Cee, Second Wind, Mr Hasani, Georgetown and Malak Uswaad.

NZ Australasian Young Drivers reps confirmed: The three New Zealand reps in the upcoming Australasian Young Drivers Championship will be Zac Butcher (NZ), Josh Dickie (NI), Matthew Williamson (SI). Last week Josh Dickie made a last-ditch dash to Forbury Park to secure his place. He needed to run one or two in the last qualifying race of the season and he delivered on the Dunn trained Better Than Money. Dickie also sneered a close-up second on outsider Rescarn in one of his other pick-up drives.

The Australasian Young Drivers Champs runs across Inter Dominion week in and around Sydney – starting on Feb 25 and concluding on Super Sunday at Menangle on March 3. Josh Dickie won the champs in 2011, when they were last held in New Zealand.

Milestone Watch: Ken Barron is now on 992 career driving wins.

Courtesy of Andrew Morris, Marketing & Communications Offcer, HRNZ