Monbet late scratching at trials


Greg and Nina Hope are having a very frustrating run on the comeback trail with Monbet.

The 2016 Horse of the Year, not sighted for almost two years now, was a late scratching from Wednesday’s Rangiora trials but, once again, it was just due to a minor hiccup.

Monbet was supposed to commence his comeback at last week’s Rangiora trials, but skipped those as a precaution after another minor issue.

News of Monbet’s scratching came through during the course of the trials programme after Hope was about to head to the track with him.

“It was while loading him up that he sweated up quite badly and it appears he’s had a minor bout of colic,” said driver Ricky May about the star trotter.

“There was no point taking him like that, but he recovered very quickly and Greg said he’d thrown him in the cart for a jog and he was fine.

“So, he’ll probably go to the Methven workouts on Saturday now, but Greg must be starting to wonder just what is going to happen next.”

Monbet’s trial at Rangiora was easily won by last season’s 3YO Trotter of the Year and rising star Winterfell and he’s likely to resume at Addington next week.

In his first outing since winning at the Jewels, Winterfell was given an easy run in front and held off a late charge by Woodstone to win in a sedate 3.30.3, home in 58.4 and 29.2.

There is a nice R80 front discretionary handicap for Winterfell at Addington next week and then he will head to Ashburton and on to Cup Week, where the Dominion is a possibility if he is performing.

The main pacing heat was won by Cullenburn, who zipped up the passing lane after trailing for Benny Hill to beat the pacemaking Swamp Major in a solid 3.20.2, home in 57.8 and 28.6.

But the eye catching runs in behind the front markers came from Pat’s Delight (20m), Hail Christian and Cruz Bromac (40m).

The latter has been with the All Stars for a couple of months in preparation for the New Zealand Cup and in his first public outing here, Natalie Rasmussen was never going to knock him about, but Cruz Bromac made ground as well as anything in the run home.

Pat’s Delight was at the rear a lap out but improved with cover from that point and charged home to be beaten less than a length.

He might resume at Ashburton in the R64 discretionary handicap provided he is not handicapped beyond 30m.

Bettor Joy looked much sharper for her trial last week when she charged home for Murray Howard to gun down Sicario in their 2000-metre heat.

She is coming back on a difficult 89 rating but will be able to slip into the up to R91 mile for fillies and mares at Ashburton on Labour Day.

Graham and Paul Court have had a great run from supporting Shadow Play with the likes of Brilliant Strike, Beyond Belief and Stick Man, and now they have another good one ready to strike again.

Cast No Shadow, who beat War Hero in a maiden race for two-year-olds at Washdyke in the autumn, had his second trial back at Rangiora and won comfortably after Blair Orange took him to the front inside the mile mark.

Buzinga was also very good in charging home from the rear to beat her stablemate Sezana, who just battled from a handy run in the trail.

Mark Purdon earlier won three consecutive maiden pacing heats with Bettor’s Delight three-year-olds in Portalegre, Slingshot and Ultimate Sniper.

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