Two northern features to be run as handicaps
Changes have been confirmed for two upcoming trotting features at Alexandra Park.
The Lyell Creek Stakes at Alexandra Park on April 21 and the ANZAC Cup On May 19 will be 2200m handicap races, with a backmark of 20 metres. In recent years they have both been run as 2200m mobiles.
It's envisaged the move back to handicap conditions will create more opportunities for the leading trotters at this time of the year and encourage emerging trotters as well, ensuring good-sized fields.
The decision on the Lyell Creek Stakes was made after discussion between the Auckland Trotting Club and Harness Racing New Zealand. It has been a handicap event previously - between 1996 and 2005 - but from 2011 has been a mobile over 2200m. For many years it was also raced over 2700m (mobile).
Since the race started in the 1970s it's been won by square-gaiting superstars such as I Can Doosit (2010-12), Pride Of Petite (1994-97) and Lyell Creek himself in 1999 and 2000 while the two most recent winners have been Bolt For Brilliance (2022) and Sundees Son (2020).
It became the Lyell Creek Stakes in 2006 to recognise this country's greatest ever trotter. Before that it was known as the Challenge Stakes.
The ANZAC Cup is a more recent race, with I Can Doosit winning the first edition in 2012, and Sundees Son winning the last three (2019-21-22).
The Lyell Creek Stakes and the ANZAC Cup are just two of several Group races for the trotters in the north over the next two months including the :
- 14 April Waikato Trotters Flying Mile G2 $45,000
- 21 April Lyell Creek Stakes G2 $45,000 2200m (Handicap max back mark 20m)
- 28 April National Trot G1 $90,000 Mobile 2700m
- 19 May ANZAC Cup G2 $45,000 2200m (Handicap max back mark 20m)
- 26 May Rowe Cup G1 $180,000 3200m FFA
Taking on the likes of Muscle Mountain and the other top Kiwi trotters will be star Australian Trotter Aldebaran Zeus who is here for a campaign that will start with the Waikato Trotters Flying Mile on April 14 and culminate in the Group 1 Rowe Cup on May 26.