By Michael GuerinOne-time New Zealand Cup favourite Heaven Rocks is in severe doubt for Tuesday’s great race at Addington.
The dual Jewels winner has not impressed trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen with some flat track work this week and they suspect he may be coming down with a virus.
He will have blood tests Saturday morning and if a virus is confirmed he would miss Tuesday’s $800,000 race, with a potential back up option of the NZ Free-For-All on Friday.
While it seems hard to believe now with Lazarus the $1.30 TAB favourite, Heaven Rocks actually replaced his stablemate briefly at the head of the Cup market last month before their comeback race saw Lazarus win and Heaven Rocks perform poorly.
Since then he has been a decent third to Lazarus in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton and an impressive winner at Addington eight days ago to sit as the clear second favourite for the Cup at $6.
If Heaven Rocks is withdrawn Lazarus could remarkably be as short as $1.20 with the TAB book before Tuesday.
He won’t be the only major scratching from a group one next week as Habibti Ivy has been confirmed as a non-starter in the $300,000 Dominion next Friday.
She has been troubled by a heel complaint and trainer Paul Nairn will now focus on the feature trots over the northern summer with her.
And open class pacers Locharburn and Waikiki Beach have been pulled out of the junior free-for-all on Tuesday, with Waikiki Beach suffering tying up problems after the Cup trial on Wednesday.
Multiple group one winner Sheemon, who only returned to racing at Kaikoura 12 days ago, is also out of the Trot Free-For-All on Tuesday, suggesting he will also miss the Dominion.
Haras Des Trotteurs will sponsor the two and three-year-old Sires Stakes Trotters Division. They will also sponsor the Haras Des Trotteurs Aged Classic to be held at Addington on 11th May with eligibility extended to both Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales paid up trotters.
With the biggest week of Harness Racing action on our coat tails, many could understand premiership leading drivers Blair Orange & Dexter Dunn wanting to have a quiet week in preparation but with the Drivers Premiership the talk of the town both are keen to continue adding to their already impressive tally’s.