The battle of the ANZACs at Methven

A Bledisloe Cup of harness racing's been confirmed for Methven next month. 

Four trans-Tasman driving greats - Ricky May, Maurice McKendry, Greg Sugars and Chris Alford - will battle it out in the Anzac 18,000+ series - at Mt Harding on April 14.

"I would have thought it was 100-to-one the chances of getting the four of them together," says Methven Trotting Club President Michael Heenan, "we are just so excited about it."

The series is based on "The Three Wise Men" promotion the club run last year. It pitted May, McKendry and Tony Herlihy together. They are the only drivers to have driven 3000 winners in this country.

McKendry (3393 career wins), who won that series, and May (3099) are back. Both have strong Mid Canterbury links. McKendry was born and raised there before moving north to Auckland while May is a local through and through.

Sugars is one of the gun drivers in Australia, mainly through his association with top trotter Just Believe, while Alford became the first Australian to rack up 8000 career wins when he won at Ballarat last month, 39 years after his first win in 1984.

Altogether the quartet have had a total of more than 18,000 wins.

"They are just crazy numbers that we are talking about," says Heenan.

Both Sugars and Alford will be in New Zealand at the time as they have key drives at Cambridge's Grins Night of Champions on Friday, April 12, two days before the Methven meeting. Sugars will drive Better Eclipse in the $1m Race by Grins and Just Believe in the TAB Trot. Alford will be one of his race rivals in the latter with the Kiwi-owned Queen Elida.

"Chris wasn't too sure initially because of his driving engagements but then came back to us to say he'd love to come," says Hennan.

"We didn't really think about the timings and the Grins race, it just sought of evolved and a couple of flukes came together and here we are."

The fine print of the series is still being worked through but it's envisaged, similar to last year's format, that the four drivers will get the top four-rated horses in each race and accrue points over a series of races. So it will be May and McKendry vs Sugars and Alford, the team with the most points will be the trans-Tasman winner.

"There will be six or seven ratings races, and if for instance one driver gets the top rated horse in one race then he'll get the fourth highest in the next race - so it's fair to all of them."

"We just hope for the best weather wise ... but we are so excited."


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