News & Events

Ricky to enter NZ Cup history books?

By Michael Guerin

Ricky May has been gifted a surprise shot at harness racing’s greatest title - the most successful driver in New Zealand Cup history.

And that has the outstanding horseman looking forward to a trial on Monday just as much as he is a good book of drives at Alexandra Park tonight.

May is part of the South Island team for tonight’s Island of Origin series, pitting 12 of New Zealand’s best drivers against each other over six races. With the smallish fields all drivers will have five opportunities, with the TAB providing betting on the winning team, individual and head to heads.

But as much as May enjoys the competition and humour associated with the series, he can’t wait till Monday when he has his first steer behind reigning New Zealand Cup champion Terror To Love. May has been booked as the new regular driver for Terror To Love as last season’s Cup winning driver Jim Curtin is committed to his stable runner Franco Emirate.

And Anthony Butt, who won the Taylor Mile and Harness Jewels on Terror To Love last season, has at least two other Cup contenders in Stunin Cullen and Choise Achiever. So May finds himself in a hot seat he knows well.

He is the most successful NZ Cup reinsman still driving, having steered Inky Lord, Iraklis, Mainland Banner and Monkey King (twice) to win the great race. That puts him on five, just one behind Ces Devine’s legendary six Cup wins, which looked a record that might stay untouched forever.

“That would be a great record to get, even just equalling it, because everybody in harness racing know what Ces did,” said May.

“And while winning a Cup isn’t easy, being asked to drive the defending champion is a great opportunity.

“I’ll have my first steer behind him on Monday at the trials and I am really looking forward to it.”

On a somewhat smaller scale, May has also been lucky with his drivers in the invitation series tonight. Ironically his best drive of the night is not even in a leg of the series though, with May having secured Spirit And Desire in race four because regular driver Zac Butcher is suspended. May says he watches most Alexandra Park races, will do some form for his drives tonight, but already knows Spirit And Desire.

“I have seen quite a bit of her and I have been impressed,” he offers.

“She has gate speed and also high speed at the end of her races so she looks a good one to get on.”

He will partner Silver Whisp, who is expected to be a quick improver in the opening race, which is a not overly-strong maiden trot. May also has winning, or at least good place hopes, with Dan (race three), Lucky John (race five) and Mont Ventoux in race seven.

Challenging May for the best book of drives tonight is southern counterpart Anthony Butt, who has serious winning chances in Rare Opportunity and Pass Them By as well as contenders in Kawarau Spur and Tafadhali.

Punters chasing the $100,000 terminating Pick6 should look no further than Imajollywally in race eight as their anchor. He was an impressive juvenile last season and bolted to a six-length win at the workouts last week.