Addington gearing up for Cup day of old

By Michael Guerin

New Zealand’s biggest race day is “starting to feel like the old days again” but there is a crucial part of the puzzle Addington officials want to add to New Zealand Trotting Cup Day.

Addington is planning for a traditional Cup Day crowd that could approach 20,000 for the November 8 meeting, a far cry from Cup Day last year which was restricted to a crowd of 1200 because of Covid.

The travel restrictions at the time meant Ray Green, the trainer of Cup winner Copy That, and almost all Auckland-based trainers and connections were unable to attend the meeting.

The racing was still world class but the meeting overall felt like eating a wet sandwich compared to the Cup Day which is usually New Zealand racing’s biggest race meeting of any code.

Addington spokesman and one of New Zealand harness racing’s most experienced and trusted administrators Darrin Williams says the club is planning for a real New Zealand Cup Day this spring and they already have enormous buy in.

“We have sold about 60 per cent of our hospitality tickets already,” says Williams.

“General admission tickets will go on sale soon and they will sell out too but we don’t have an exact number we will cap the event at yet.

“But it could get back to 20,000 people, which would be wonderful.

“We know how tough last year was on everybody and we don’t even want to think about that again but it already feels like we are going to have real Cup Day like we used to, providing nothing out of our control happens.”

Williams says Addington has some new initiatives to announce and it's understood the TAB may be working with punting and racing fan base Boys Get Paid on a five-day punter’s club to cover Cup Day at Addington through until galloping Cup Day at Riccarton on the following Saturday.

While those plans are yet to be finalized a punter’s club spanning all three codes, the greyhounds have their Cup at Addington on the Thursday night, could attract a starting pool close to $500,000, especially with the Boys Get Paid base behind it.

A full house at Addington and a huge punter’s club will take care of business off the track but Williams says with Trans-Tasman travel restrictions lifted the club would love to attract elite Australian horses over to the great race and they have an obvious target.

Majestic Cruiser staked his claim to be the best pacer in Australia when he won the A$350,000 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park in Brisbane on Saturday night, beating former Kiwi pacers Spirit Of St Louis and Turn It Up.

That comes after a breakthrough autumn campaign in New Zealand when he finished a brave second to Self Assured in The Race by Grins at Cambridge and then won the Messenger, New Zealand’s race most likely to springboard a pacer to stardom.

Trained by NSW young gun trainer Jason Grimson and driven by superstar reinsman Cam Hart, Majestic Cruiser is at the top of Addington’s wish list but first he would need some standing start experience, at least at the trials.

“We would to love to get the Aussies back here and he is the obvious one,” says Williams.

“They add so much to our major races.

“They raise awareness in Australia and ensure we get even more media coverage over there where Cup Day has been a really big deal now for quite a while.

“It also brings a different form line to the race and the Aussies usually have a bit to say and it really adds to the hype.

“So we will be reaching out to the top trainers and suggesting they at least nominate before the entries close on September 8 and then we can work with them to see if the carnival suits.”

One slight hurdle is the Inter Dominions in Victoria which start 18 days after the Cup but since that series has moved to its November-December date horses like Smolda and Lazarus have raced in the Cup and gone on to win the Inter Dominion Final just a month later.

Cup week has already been boosted by the news champion trotter Sundees Son is staying home this year so will attempt a third straight win in the Dominion, the Group 1 in which he destroyed the national 3200m record last November.




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