Upsets galore as favourites falter at Addington
This is not what anyone was expecting at Addington tonight.
First of all it was Republican Party who turned party pooper for Akuta fans in The Lazarus three-year-old stakes, followed by trotting heavyweights Sundees Son and Muscle Mountain both galloping in the night's feature trot, leaving Smokin Bandar to cruise to victory at double figure odds, and then in the traditional New Zealand lead-up race, the Lamb and Hayward Canterbury Classic Cup favourite Self Assured could do no better than third, as B D Joe dominated from the front.
Akuta, the second favourite for the New Zealand Cup in little over a month, was backed into $1.20 - the race seemingly his for the taking - but the hotpot never really looked like catching Republican Party who was aggressive off the gate, going straight to the lead.
Blair Orange controlled proceedings in front while Akuta was in the one-one before going three wide at the 500 but he just couldn't make any headway on Republican Party, who went on to beat Franco Mac by three-quarters of a length. He paid $8.40 for the win.
Just what that means for Akuta's Cup campaign remains to be seen.
The feature trot started disastrously for favourite Muscle Mountain. He galloped off the mark and played no part while fellow backmarker and arch rival Sundees Son was making his move around the field when he too galloped out of contention.
In the meantime Matua Tana was leading with Smokin Bandar biding his time in the trail for Craig Ferguson.
Smokin Bandar wore down his rival to win comfortably in the end, paying $16.80.
The Canterbury Classic turned into a procession after B D Joe went to the top, leaving Self Assured parked.
B D Joe rallied in the straight to hold on while Spankem, who had been in the trail, did well to finish second, ahead of Self Assured. B D Joe paid $5.20.
All three are now guaranteed a place in the Cup on Tuesday, November 8 - with tonight's results raising so many more questions than answers.