Top grade next for Massive Metro

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Viewers got a sneak peek of what to expect next season when Massive Metro took out the $40,000 Uncut Gems Aged Trotters Classic at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

He led for a majority of the trip in the hands of regular driver Todd Mitchell, who noted post-race that he thinks the four-year-old has what it takes to handle the top grade next season.

“You’d think, the way he won tonight and last week, that he should take the next step up next season,” he said.

“To be fair to the horse, he’s not a real front-runner, so the effort to win tonight was very good.”

Massive Metro has shown an abundance of ability all season, often mounting huge recoveries for minor placings after early gallops.

According to co-trainer Michelle Wallis, who prepares with her husband Bernie Hackett, the son of Muscle Mass has just had a few minor issues with the Auckland way of racing.

“He hasn’t been 100 percent right-handed all season.

“The only reason he’s been missing away is he’s been struggling with having the pole on.

“But a lot of his runs have been really good and it was nice to see him win a decent race to finish the season.”

His owners banked $20,000 for the feature win, one where he saw off a concerted challenge from race favourite Woodstone over the final lap.

He was a winner last week, but six days prior to that had finished second last in the 4YO Emerald at Cambridge after a late gallop.

But, according to Mitchell, that didn’t really tell the full story.

“If I’d driven him differently in the Jewels, he probably would have run fourth or fifth.

“I probably should have gone four-pegs early but he began well and was travelling nicely.

“He ended up getting shunted about 10-wide on the last bend and it put him off balance.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as they say.”

Wallis confirmed Massive Metro would now go for a spell before he comes back in with a view to feature racing next season.

She reckoned that he was probably the best of her and Hackett’s 30 trotters on their books.

“On ability, he is probably our best horse at the moment.”

They purchased him as a three-year-old out of the Canterbury stable of Kevin Fairbairn.

“He’s out of Paris Metro, who was my first Group 1 winner as a trainer.

“Her owners were racing his older brother, Commander Paris, out of our stable at the time, but we purchased this fella off them and put other stable owners in to him.”

Commander Paris was recently sold to American interests.

The defeat of Woodstone was the only blot on the copy book for trainer Robert Dunn on the night, who produced Sundees Son to win his trot and Billy Badger to win the $40,000 Uncut Gems Entires and Geldings Classic for pacers.

He put in a brilliant front-running performance to beat Check In, hot favourite Classie Brigade tiring to fourth after the race was run in a lightning 2.38.9 (1.56.2 MR).

Consistent mare Opoutama ended her season on a high, taking the $40,000 Uncut Gems Mares Classic in the hands of Zac Butcher, narrowly defeating a game Juice Brogden.

On the under card, both Tony Herlihy and Peter and Vaughan Blanchard trained doubles.

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