Confidence in Majestic Man camp ahead of IDs

By Adam Hamilton

Things are falling into place for Majestic Man to continue his love affair with Australia.

Phil Williamson’s star trotter can’t beat the best at home, but a drop back in grade to taking on a moderate Aussie crop sees him favourite to win the NSW Inter Dominion trotting series, which starts at Menangle on Saturday night.

He’s back in the land where he had a stunning six-race campaign earlier this year, which netted Majestic Man three wins (all at Group 1 level), a second, a third and a fourth.

Despite being winless in eight NZ runs since, the drop in class and Majestic Man’s sparkling gate speed are huge plusses now he’s back in Australia.

Williamson has entrusted champion former Kiwi horseman Anthony Butt with training and driving Majestic Man through the series.

He drew perfectly in gate two for the first round of heats over 2400m at Menangle on Saturday night and punters pounced as soon as he opened $2. He’s now into $1.65,

“Those Kiwi trotters are amazing and he’ll find this so much easier,” Butt said.

“That, combined with his gate speed and the fact he’s better suited to Aussie racing give me a lot of confidence.”

Butt said all the signs were good despite Majestic Man coming off a gut-busting 14th in the Group 1 Dominion Trot last Friday week.

“He hasn’t been here long, but he seems good. You just have to forget about that run and look at how he ran a terrific race when he led on NZ Cup Day and a couple of weeks before at Ashburton,” he said.

“He only has to run up to that sort of form against the easier opposition here to be a huge chance of winning it all.”

Majestic Man meets boom former Kiwi trotting mare Funky Monkey, who is second favourite for the final, in their first heat

Funky Monkey, just a four-year-old, is also coming off a gut-busting run after galloping early when fifth at Menangle last Saturday week. And she’s got to overcome the back row (gate 12).

It’s important to note in the series, all horses will start from their allotted barriers, meaning they won’t move up from the back to front row if emergencies are scratched.

The other trotting heat looks a match between brilliant Victorian mare Pink Galahs (gate one) and grand old local veteran Tough Monarch (six). The other key runner is Team McCarthy’s former Kiwi, Humble Ladd, who is first-up from a spell and drawn wide in gate seven.

Team McCarthy has a stranglehold in the pacing heats and overall series.

Champion Kiwi-bred King Of Swing (gate four) will be crossed early by Boncel Benjamin, but still has plenty of class over his rivals and is a $1.25 favourite to win heat one.

Stablemate and Chariots Of Fire winner Expensive Ego has the back row in heat two, but will love the 2400m and is a $1.60 favourite.

While Team McCarthy’s speedy former Kiwi pacer Spirit Of St Louis is favourite at $2.60 in a more open third heat, but gets his chance from gate three.

Talented Kiwi stayer Robyns Playboy is “on loan” to the powerful KerryAnn and Robbie Morris barn for the series and gets a chance for some valuable early points from gate five in the same heat as Expensive Ego.

The series then moves to Bathurst for 1730m heats next Wednesday night, then Newcastle for the final round of qualifiers over 2030m.

Both of the 3009m Grand Final are at Menangle on December 11.

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