Monbet stalls but Marcoola still on track

By Michael Guerin

The Rowe Cup dreams of one of trotting’s Big Three lives on as anothers start to fade during a tumultuous week for the open class crop.

The comeback of undoubtedly New Zealand’s best trotter Monbet appears to have stalled yet again as he is missing from the fields for Rangiora on Sunday, which was to have been his next assignment.

 And that must bring into doubt his chances of making it to Auckland for the Anzac Cup on April 26 and more importantly the Rowe Cup a week later.

Monbet has had just one start in 28 months after a series of leg issues but trainer Greg Hope was, excuse the pun, hoping he had the seven-year-old sound enough for a group one campaign after a recent trials win.

 But after developing a splint last week that kept him out of last Friday’s Trotting Championships and now missing Rangiora on Sunday, it is hard to see how he could be fit enough to race, let alone win in Auckland.

While Monbet northern assault is in doubt Marcoola will be on trial for a trip north when he contests Sunday’s race, for which he will now be a hot favourite.

 He was a huge flop behind Speeding Spur last Friday with driver Clint Ford suggesting the very wet Addington track may have been one reason.

 “He has handled a wet track before but he didn’t seem to enjoy it last week,” said Ford.

 “Maybe it was that and maybe it was the fact he has missed a lead-up race.

 “But he has worked well since and if he bounces back on Sunday then the trip to Auckland will still be on.

“We are still intending to go but obviously we would have to reassess if he fails again on Sunday.”
 Marcoola will be up against last season’s Jewels winner Habibi Inta while the feature of the Rangiora card will the Classic for the pacers where New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer clashes with Chase Auckland, A G’s White Socks and Ashley Locaz.

 It will be Chase Auckland’s first start in New Zealand for the season so he has no stake money so far with which to qualify for the Jewels at Addington on June 1.

He has this Sunday and the Taylor Mile and Messenger at Auckland as well as possibly some smaller mid-May races to try and win at least $40,000 to get into the Jewels.

 Bsut because he hasn’t earned any money domestically this season he hasn’t been listed in the market for the four-year-old Emerald.

The TAB released those markets yesterday and there are some real cases of punter beware.

 Turn It Up and Spankem are the two favourites for the four-year-old male pace but it wouldn’t surprise to see either or both bypass the race to spell and prepare for the rich treble of the New Zealand Cup-Inter Dominion-Auckland Cup which are all in New Zealand in the last seven weeks of this year.

 And the participation of champion three-year-old Ultimate Sniper in the Jewels would seem anything but certain as he has been sent for scintigraphy after being slightly uneasy in his gait when winning the New Zealand Derby last Friday.

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