HRNZ Media Bites, March 5

J Scott Latest News




Huge clashes loom on Auckland Cup night: A Group racing bonanza awaits on Friday night at Alexandra Park. The Trillian Trust Auckland Cup will be the highlight of the night with so many stars involved but of course the Woodlands Northern Derby will be riding side-saddle and offers up a mouth-watering clash, as Adore Me takes on the best colts and geldings in the land. Aside from the Cup and Derby the 2YOs aim up at their first major targets for the year. The Group 1 Breckon Bloodstock Young Gun Cardigan Bay Stakes Young Guns Final has attracted a smallish but quality field and the Gotta Go Cullen Young Gun Delightful Lady Classic is chocker-block with smart juvenile fillies. They, along with several other quality races make up Trillian Trust Auckland Cup night, a 10-race card that kicks off at 6.15pm.

Can Adore me fly in the face of history?: A filly has not won the Northern Derby since 1971(Roydon Roux). That’s a damning stat but if there’s a filly credentialled to rewrite the history books it must be her. Unbeaten in seven starts and she obliterated her rivals in the Oaks last week after having the toughest run. And now she has to deal with starting from the outside of the second row. The odds: Adore Me $2.80, Ohoka Punter $3.20, Franco Nelson $4.50.

Who saw I’m Victorious in the Chariots?: He may be only a four-year-old but he was very unlucky in the Chariots Of Fire last Sunday. He was charging late when Christen Me was winning in 1.50.5. Could Victorious be the blowout in the Auckland Cup? How will those backing up from the Inter Dominion handle the relatively short back-up and the travel after a gruelling 3000m mobile race? Victorious is currently a $16 chance to win the Cup on Friday night. Themightyquinn $2.40 on the Fixed odds, Terror To Love $3.

With breeding numbers mostly collated by HRNZ it appears that the top dog in the light harness sport remains to be Bettor’s Delight. He served a staggering 329 mares in the current breeding season, which is his second-equal best haul. He served a remarkable 345 in 2006/07 and has now served 300 or more mares in five separate seasons. With those sorts of numbers his domination looks set to continue for years to come. Without the confirmed numbers for Christian Cullen yet received it appears that another Woodlands Stud stallion, American Ideal, will finish second on mare services. He had 187 covers. Mach Three is next on 147. The top trotter was Monarchy with 80. Former champ Sundon had 39 services. Understandable, considering it was his 21st season at stud. At his peak he served 230 mares back in 1996/97 – 32% of the trotting mares served that year.

Without numbers being completed it appears as though breeding numbers could be down around 5% to 7% for this past breeding season. Not as dire as some may have thought leading into the breeding season.

Keystone Del – has there ever been a more meteoric rise in harness racing?: Back in October Keystone Del was the rank outsider for a non-win trot at Manawatu. He won that race that though, recording a 2.13.7 mile rate and running a last 800m in 65.0. Fast forward four months or so and Keystone Del has lowered the colours of some of Australasia’s most vaunted trotters and taken home the lion’s share of a $200,000 stake for his win in the Glenferrie Farms Challenge. It’s a truly wonderful and unique story. Added to that the horse was sent west by his Kiwi connections on a deal to be trained by a Kiwi lass Nicole Molander who made a big move to Australia two years ago, after a stint with Mark Purdon.

Since leaving NZ Keystone Del had run just seven times in Australia for a handful of wins. Had it not been for his first Metro win the start prior in a slick 1.54.9 at Menangle he would not have been in the Aussie quintet that took on the Kiwis. His selection wasn’t without controversy either. How could a trotter with one win of any real substance be thrown into a battle like the Group 1 Glenferrie race? As they say: the proof of the pudding.

Kiwis punt up on Super Sunday: The betting through the NZ TAB on Menangle Harness Racing’s Super Sunday saw a record $993k put through the chaff cutter and Fixed Odds in New Zealand, which bodes well for the future interest of Australian harness in New Zealand. No doubt the improved tracks, huge numbers of ex-pats (horses and horse people) is piquing the interest of our punters.

Quicks: Ken Barron still sits on 997 NZ driving wins. Josh Dickie was the best placed NZer in the Australasian Young Drivers Champs – he finished second just three points off his second AYD title. As we in NZ convert stake monies won overseas, Themightyquinn has now banked more than NZ$5.1 million. Sir Lincoln hurt himself in his final workout before the Inter Dominion last week. The full extent of the injury is yet to be determined. Final Field Fixed Odds out for the Auckland Cup & Northern Derby.

Courtesy of Andrew Morris, Marketing and Communications Manager | Harness Racing New Zealand