It's Tough Time

By Adam Hamilton

THINGS are falling into place for star Aussie trotter Tough Monarch.

The absence of buzz trotter Oscar Bonavena, a seemingly ideal barrier draw and pleasing trial have trainer Rickie Alchin confident heading into Tuesday’s $100,000 Group 1 NZ Trotting free-for-all (1980m) at Addington.

The “sprint” trip of just 1980m should also suit, especially given Tough Monarch thrashed a hot field in a scorching 1min54.4sec mile at Melton just three starts back.

“Everything is coming together well,” trainer Rickie Alchin said. “He handled the trip across well, has settled in nicely and Ants (driver Anthony Butt) said he felt super in the trial yesterday.”

Tough Monarch was given a relatively easy time in the four-horse mobile trot trial yesterday, winning by two lengths in a 2min0.5sec mile rate for 1980m. He closed in 59.7 and 28.8sec.

Soon after, Alchin learned Tough Monarch had drawn gate five. He’ll come into four if emergency The Dominator misses a start.

And Tough Monarch has plenty of early gate speed.

“The draw looks great, but I don’t know the others inside me too well. My bloke will get out quickly,” Alchin said.

Enhancing Tough Monarch’s good draw is the fact key rivals Sundees Son (inside back row), fellow Aussie McLovin (13) and local Winterfell (nine) draw poorly.

Tough Monarch has gone to another level this campaign, winning five of his past six starts.

The eight-year-old is chasing his first Group 1 win, having been placed at the elite three times, all this season.

“There’s no doubt both horse and trainer learnt a lot from that Melbourne Inter Dominion series late last year,” Alchin said.

“He’s come back a better horse for sure and I understand his more as well.”

Meanwhile, McLovin arrived in Auckland yesterday (Wednesday) after being on the same flight out of Melbourne with key Aussie NZ Cup runner San Carlo. The pair had day in Auckland in Auckland before being flown to Christchurch tomorrow morning (Friday).

Tough Monarch and McLovin will both back-up in Friday’s Group 1 Dominion Trot.

McLovin heads home afterwards, but Tough Monarch moves to Auckland for the Inter Dominion series where he may well be the lone Aussie trotter in the series.



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