News & Events

NZ Cup thrown wide open

By Michael Guerin

New Zealand’s greatest harness race has been thrown wide open by the result of a barely watched trial in Western Australia.

Because the dramatic failure of dual Inter Dominion champion I’m Themightyquinn in his comeback trial has put his New Zealand Cup campaign - and maybe even his career - in doubt.

I’m Themightyquinn suffered atrial fibrillation in a trial on Sunday, which has trainer Gary Hall questioning whether retirement may be the best option for the Kiwi-bred pacer. At the very least, the reigning Inter Dominion champion will miss a planned raid on the New Zealand Cup and won’t race until next year.

“He’s having a spell for a month now, then we’ll put him back into work and have the vet go right over him,” Hall said.

“We’re still in shock really, but it could be the end for him. He’s been so good to us we won’t be taking any risks.

If there’s any chance of something going wrong again, then I’d recommend we retire him.”

With I’m Themightyquinn set to miss the New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 13, favouritism for the great race is up for grabs as the open class pacing ranks on both sides of the Tasman are ripe for a changing of the guard. The moving of next season’s Miracle Mile from November to April means the trainers of almost every serious pacer in Australasia will be considering Addington.

But with Mr Feelgood almost certainly retired, Smoken Up old enough to vote and Monkey King gone, the four pacers who have dominated the last three years may not be around. Defending Cup champion  Terror To Love will be back but he and arch rival Gold Ace have both struggled at times this season and it could be argued Hands Christian has passed them to become New Zealand’s most exciting young pacer, but he too is on the injured list and won’t be ready for the Cup.

The forgotten horse in the Cup puzzle is Auckland Reactor, who is spelling in South Auckland and will return to trainer Mark Purdon soon. He missed last season’s Cup with a untimely hoof cut but if the TAB was opening a market today he would have to be the early favourite.

Add in Sir Lincoln, Stunin Cullen, Smiling Shard and the glamour mares Bettor Cover Lover, Carabella and De Lovely, the latter two no certainties to race again, and the Cup has its most open look in a long time.