Majestic Man confirmed for Inter Dominions
By Michael Guerin
Majestic Man is set to be the sole Kiwi trotting representative at the Inter Dominions which start next week in New South Wales.
But he will have some high-powered New Zealand assistance in one of the greats of the series, champion horseman Anthony Butt.
Butt will be the caretaker trainer and driver of Majestic Man starting today when he flies into Melbourne from where he will travel north to New South Wales next week.
The series starts at Menangle on Saturday week, with three pacing and two trotting heats per night, heading to Bathurst on the following Wednesday and Newcastle on the Sunday, returning to Menangle for the final on December 11.
New Zealand interest in the series was always going to be stymied by the Covid travel restrictions, while some trainers also don’t like the travel for heats, although that will also be the case in Victoria next season.
That coupled with stakes being capped as part of the Trans Tasman hosting agreement and the fact so many horses just had a brutal Cup week has seen horses like Self Assured, Bad To The Bone and Bolt For Brilliance pulled out, while Majestic Lavros has headed to the paddock and Stylish Memphis, who has already tasted Group One success will stay home for the Queen Of Hearts before returning to Menangle for summer racing there.
So that leaves Majestic Man flying the trotting flag while Robyns Playboy will compete in the pacing series after moving to the Menangle stables of KerryAnn and Robbie Morris, where he will stay and race on after the series.
So that leaves Majestic Man flying the flag and trainer Phil Williamson says that is mainly because of the historic lure of the series.
“The stakes aren’t really high for what the series is but it is still the Inter Dominion and we would love to win one,” says Williamson.
“The syndicate are keen and the horse isn’t getting any younger so he is going and he might even stay over there for a while and attack the same races he raced in last season after the series.”
Majestic Man won three times at Group One level in Australia last season but that was with Williamson’s son Brad doing the driving and caretaker training but he can’t go this time because of not only the time away from home but the quarantine returning.
“So we are thrilled to have Ants look after the horse for us,” says Williamson.
Some may think Majestic Man isn’t racing that well, especially after he finished 70m from Sundees Son in the record-smashing Dominion at Addington last Friday.
The reality is his times and performances before that, in the Flying Mile at Ashburton and in the Trotting Free-For-All, were comparable with last season and after an early burn on such a record speed last Friday he had every right to drop out.
“He was beaten a long way but Brad didn’t knock him around once he couldn’t place,” says Phil. “I am not saying he is going to go over there and simply win the Inter and the final being 3009m probably isn’t ideal but he deserves his crack the way he won over there earlier this year.”
The other reality is the series will be a long, long way down on the vintage class Majestic Man has been racing over here, with Australia’s leading trainer of trotters Andy Gath pulling out his team. Without them and the Kiwis, Majestic Man will have the best record of those actually starting.
Final rankings for both the Pacing and Trotting Inters will be declared on Wednesday with withdrawals on Friday and the first round of heats drawn next Monday.