Moniburns aims for hat-trick
By Jonny Turner
Handing a quick turn around is the main challenge for Southland trotter Moniburns as she attempts to continue her brilliant form on grass at Oamaru today.
The 8yr-old has won her last two starts for trainers Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis and owner Paul Hillis on the same track and over the same distance she faces in today’s 2000m feature trot.
Moniburns led all of the way to win for driver Blair Orange on the first day of the annual two-day Waikouaiti meeting at Oamaru on Sunday.
That victory came after the Monarchy mare produced an identical performance on the track eight days prior.
Rewind twelve months and Moniburns won at last year’s Oamaru meeting, before running second on Waikouaiti Cup day and being well beaten in to fourth as the favourite two days later.
Hillis, who is a key part of Barclay and Ellis’ training operation will be hoping his mare backs up better than she did last year when she steps out in race 8 today.
“Backing up will be the biggest concern for her,” Barclay said.
“The field isn’t that much stronger than she beat the other day and looked to do it really easily on Sunday.”
Moniburns’ form suggests she is returning to Oamaru in even better order than last year, which could help her chances overcoming her short turnaround from Sunday.
“Paul reckons she is in the best form of her life.”
“He does all the driving with her at home and looks after her and before he left for Oamaru he said she was really well.”
Moniburns has been aided by two typically excellent front running drives from Orange in her last two wins.
Finding the lead will be a slightly trickier task today as his mare starts from a 10m handicap, rather than off the front line.
Why Moniburns excels in February at Oamaru can not be explained by just one factor.
Instead, it appears to be for a number of reasons.
“Maybe she just loves the track and the longer grass it has on it,” Barclay said.
Moniburns was the $7 equal fourth favourite, with Only One Way in fixed odds betting for race 8, last night.
Bookmakers rated One Over Dover ($5.50), Playboy’s Brother ($6) and Sundon’s Flyer ($6.50) ahead of the pair.
One Over Dover ran home well in to fourth after galloping and losing ground behind Moniburns on Sunday.
Playboy’s Brother ran second behind impressive winner, Never Mind, in a stronger race on the same day.
Only One Way and Sundons’s Flyer did not start on Sunday.
The pair have both competed in stronger events at Addington recently.
In a strange turn, Orange will sit out four races at today’s meeting.
Despite being the reigning national premiership winner and winning nearly three times more races than another driver in the country so far this season, the reinsman has just six drives in today’s 10 races.
Orange’s best winning hopes alongside Moniburns look to be Emma Louise in race 2 and Chiller Bay in race 10.