Grand Prix Day - Race by Race
We have race by race coverage of Grand Prix Day at Addington, where eight Group 1s will be decided, with total stakes exceeding $1m.
Race 1 : EQUINE PRODUCTS NEW ZEALAND MOBILE PACE
The weather has cleared after downpours earlier in the day and Grand Prix Day is underway at Addington and in the first of the day $1.60 hotpot Fernetti duly got up for driver Carter Dalgety, but only after a scare 100 metres from home.
The Sweet Lou three-year-old made it win number three at his eighth start. He was actually headed by Major Torque, who took advantage of the passing lane, only for Fernetti to rally late to get favourite punters home. He paid $1.60 for the win.
Race 2 : IRT ACE OF CLUBS (2YO COLTS & GELDINGS) MOBILE TROT (Gr1)
The first of the day's Group 1s and it was a six-length romp for Tyron Eros. Early on the two favourites Bring On The Muscle and Look To Da Stars both broke. Tyron Eros meanwhile got into the one-one and then powered home to outfinish the pacemaking The Merc, with Bring On The Muscle producing a great recovery to finish third.
For driver John Dunn it was his 100th win this year though he was happier for the horse's owners Alan and Ian Neumann.
"It's great for the Neumanns - it's the first Group 1 winner they have bred so it's a massive thrill."
It's Tyron Eros' second win in four starts.
Race 3 : BETAVET ACE OF SPADES 2YO C&G MOBILE PACE (G1)
The all-powerful All Stars (Purdon Racing) took out their first Group 1 for the day with the Mark Purdon-driven We Walk By Faith capitalising on a perfect run. The favourite got off the gate well and then got the trail behind stablemate Major Hot. Once We Walk With Faith got to the passing lane it was game over with Major Hot and Blair Orange just holding on to second, with Dreams Are Free rattling home for third, after being three back the fence for Nathan Williamson. It's We Walk With Faith's third win in six starts.
"I was a bit worried the last bit but when we got to the passing lane he rallied well and it was a good win," says winning driver Mark Purdon.
Race 4 : K B ELECTRICS ACE OF HEARTS 2YOF MBL TROT (G1)
The in-form Empire City gave nothing else a chance as she recorded her third win in a row, and fourth from just six starts. Trained by Phil Williamson and driven by Ricky May, Empire City went straight to the lead and just trucking. Lucky Mum produced a monster run to finish second, with Princess Sadie third. The highly fancied High Step was in the one-one and could no better than fourth.
"She had her ears flicking all the way," said a delighted Ricky May, "she did a super job."
Race 5 : TENNANT ENGINEERING NEW ZEALAND PACING OAKS (MOBILE PACE) (Gr1)
Mantra Blue was all the rage following the scratching of Millwood Nike but she was just tipped by Aardiebytheseaside by a nose in a thrilling finish.
As commentator Matt Cross said, "it's a ding dong battle .... and Aardiebytheseaside wins it by a whisker."
Mantra Blue took the lead from Aardiebytheseaside who got the saloon passage in the trail. She then drew alongside the hot favourite before prevailing by the narrowest of margins for Tim Williams.
"To win these big races with these horses on the big day - that's what it is all about," Williams said, "full credit to her - she never goes a bad race."
It's Aardiebytheseaside's eighth win in 21 starts for Team Telfer.
Race 6 : EAST WEST FENCING SUMMER CUP (MOBILE PACE) (Gr3)
Ricky May clinched his second Group success for the day when Beach Ball led all the way in the Summer Cup. May took the four-year-old straight to the lead and then left them to it to win by three lengths, from Self Assured, who had sat parked.
"He is super good off the front and he just ran them off their feet," May said.
The win continues a rich rein of form for Beach Ball, who finished third in both the IRT New Zealand Cup and the Show Day Free For All. Bred and raced by Kevin and Barbara Chapman and now trained by Brendon "Benny" Hill, Beach Ball has now won 11 from 38 starts.
Race 7 : 'KING OF THE NORTH' NEW ZEALAND TROTTING DERBY (MOBILE TROT) (Gr1)
In what was her second Group 1 in little over a week, Sunnys Sister secured the Oaks/Derby double with another powerhouse performance. The three-year-old daughter of Majestic Son was buried along the fence on a strong tempo but driver John Dunn managed to find the gaps when required and they left their rivals to it. Australian visitor and favourite Not As Promised finished fourth after racing three wide for a big stretch, with Melsadele and High Energy finishing second and third. It was Team Dunn's second Group 1 for the day, following on from Tyron Eros. Sunnys Sister has now won five from 18.
"The last two weeks she has really put her best foot forward," says Dunn, "we were relying on luck and got it at the right time."
Race 8 : THE BOX SEAT ACE OF DIAMONDS (2YO FILLIES) MOBILE PACE (Gr1)
After missing out on claiming a Group 1 with Mantra Blue Zachary Butcher made amends with the Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained Duchess Megxit. After drawing the second line the combo bided their time and then pushed go with 500 remaining. Duchess Megxit ran her rivals ragged. She was three wide turning for home and in a stunning performance went on to win by more than four lengths.
"She felt like a monster," said Butcher, "it's a huge thrill to get that one."
It was Duchess Megxit's second win in four starts.
Race 9 : GARRARDS NEW ZEALAND PACING DERBY (MOBILE PACE) (Gr1)
The richest and most prestigious race of the day, worth $250,000, and clearly one of the most anticipated too. It was billed as a match race between Don't Stop Dreaming and Merlin. In the end it was an impressive and convincing all the way win for Merlin and a second Group 1 on end for Zachary Butcher and the Purdon-Phelan partnership. From his handy draw, Merlin blasted out of the gate and took up the lead while Don't Stop Dreaming had a much tougher run but never relented in finishing second. After the race Butcher said "I love him" when talking about Merlin.
"It's been a lovely end to the year and I'd like to thank everyone who's helped me, it's been a very enjoyable year."
Merlin's stablemate stable Sooner The Bettor finished third.
Race 10 : LIVAMOL NEW ZEALAND TROTTING FREE-FOR-ALL (MOBILE TROT) (Gr1)
It was a bit touch and go there for a while but the hottest of favourites Oscar Bonavena got up and won the last of the day. Mark Purdon was in a tricky spot when the champion was three back the fence with 900 to go but he managed to squeeze his way through traffic, courtesy of the passing lane, to win going away. He paid just $1.40. It was his 22nd win in 57 starts. The pacemaking Majestic Man held on for second, from Time Up The Hill. It was Mark Purdon's second Group 1 for the day, following on from We Walk By Faith. It completed a great double for Oscar Bonavena, after his triumph in the Renwick Farms Dominion Trot.
Purdon summed up exactly where his champion trotter is at : "He's in the zone!".