HRNZ Media Bites, March 27

J Scott Latest News




Vulcan returns home with a more incredible Group 1 strike rate: Vulcan as a racehorse is becoming a bizarre story. He’s been in scintillating form of late, which culminated in his Great Southern Star win last Saturday but when you dig deeper into his record that’s where the unusual reveals itself. It’s fair to say there have been few horses in history that have picked better times to win than Vuclan. The winner of 16 career races, he now has a remarkable Group 1-winning strike-rate. A staggering 9 of his 16 wins have come at Group 1 level. All 5 of Vulcan’s Australian wins have been at Group 1 level. Throw in the Dominion, NZ Trotting FFA and a couple of Harness Jewels and the picture is complete. Vulcan has now won $874k in stakes. That put’s him up there with some of the best we’ve produced. This week he again eyes up Group 1 success at Addington (NZ Trotting Championship, Saturday night) and there’s little doubt he’ll be favoured to win again, thus further enhancing this rare record he’s assembled.

Colin De Filippi gets three weeks for Stent drive: Colin De Filippi was given three weeks suspension by the JCA at his sentencing case last Friday night. De Filippi drove Stent to a narrow second back on Feb 22 and the Stipendiary Stewards charged him with “not taking all reasonable and permissible measures” to win the race. De Filippi himself admitted the error of judgement and following a lengthy process of evidence and testimony the JCA imposed a sentence of three weeks.

De Filippi’s holiday isn’t ideal for him but what it has done is created a phenomenal opportunity for young woman driver Samantha Ottley. The lass from Geraldine has impressed many judges with her driving and development since kicking off her career and in what has already been her best season to date (24 wins) her early reward will be a opportunity to pilot one of the country’s better trotters in a Group 1 feature. Stent and Ottley will have their work cut out however. Vulcan heads up a select field or the NZ Trotting Championship on Saturday night but there isn’t a quicker trotter in the race than Stent.

Small field for Easter Cup: Terror To Love looks set to dominate another Group One race in New Zealand. With no Themightyquinn to deal with this week and just six rivals, Terror To Love looks very well placed to etch another notch on his Group 1 belt. The win could also be key in the quest for Horse of the Year honours. Though he’s looking okay right now, any further success will enhance his claims for the ultimate title at season’s end.

Bit Of A Legend and Arden Rooney set to add depth to NZ Derby: There was a light field for the Vero Flying Stakes at Addington last week, which is a key Derby lead-up but the cavalry is coming for the big race. This Saturday we’ll get to see Bit Of A Legend and Arden Rooney return to the track. Both are proven at Group 1 level with Bit Of A Legend a Group 1 winner.Likely to add further spine to the Derby field next week will be the impressive Ascot Park winner from last week Saveapatrol so the race is developing well. That said it appears it will take a monumental performance or some bad luck to bump Ohoka Punter from top spot in the race. He was imperious again last week and is now really starting to flex his muscles and assume dominance over his three-year-old rivals.

Star Aussie trotter here for 3YO classics: Blitzthemcalder is here in NZ and ready to shake up the 3YO trotting scene. He arrived in Christchurch yesterday and is likely to have a hit-out on the weekend before contesting the NZ Trotting Derby next Friday. The hulking trotter was an impressive winner in his homeland last weekend over some smart expats Kiwi trotters so he looks like being a force in upcoming classic races. All being well Blitzthemcalder will race here until the Harness Jewels and, yes, you can have him in your Dream Team.

For the record: Blitzthemcalder has won 13 from 17, including a Breeders Crown Final. He is trained by expat Kiwi Ross Payne, brother of Greg and Grant.

Dream Team entries rolling in: HRNZ has enjoyed a good early response to the Dream Team competition so far with hundreds of registrations and many teams already submitted. The cut off for entry is 4pm (NZ) next Friday. We encourage all media and racing people to have a go. Hopefully it will be a fun experience and we’ll also welcome feedback for the next time.

Early Fixed Odds set for Auckland features: Early nominations for the Rowe Cup, Northern Trotting Derby and NZ Messenger will see the TAB running futures betting on the three Auckland features. The three big races will be held at Alexandra Park on May 3rd but with nominations taken on Friday April 12 there will be good opportunities for punters to have an early investment on the autumn features.

Barron still one away: Ken Barron is still in search of that elusive win the 1000. Thursday night could be the time. Barron has a solid book of drives there.

Racing this week: Of course its Easter so no Friday or Sunday racing. Our meetings break down like this. Thurs – Cambridge, Forbury Park. Saturday – Hawera, Addington, Monday – Hawera.

Brooke Henderson leaving HRNZ: Next Friday (April 5) will be a sad day for HRNZ as the talented Brooke will leave us for the Canterbury Rugby Union. If any media people have any questions to pose to HRNZ after that date please feel free to contact me. Brooke will leave a big hole to fill here at HRNZ and as you will know she’s been behind many of the positive advances we’ve made in recent seasons. Brooke has been with HRNZ for just under four and a half years.
Courtesy of Andrew Morris, Marketing and Communications Manager, Harness Racing New Zealand