Racing: Trotting queen faces full Rowe Cup field

By Michael Guerin

The upside to champion trotter Stig missing Friday night's $300,000 Rowe Cup became evident yesterday.

The great Canterbury trotter, who is sidelined with injury, would have been a hot favourite to add the Alexandra Park feature to the Dominion Handicap he won in November.

But while losing him could be considered a blow, it may provide a better financial result for the Auckland Trotting Club.

Group one races at Alexandra Park this season have been shy on numbers as horses like Auckland Reactor and Stig have scared rival trainers away.

But with no Stig in the Rowe Cup it has drawn a full field, including a surprise entry in Australian trotter Just Glorious.

The latter's connections decided to make the trip after he won the NZD$62,700 Trotters Mile at Menangle, outside Sydney, on Sunday.

"We know it is a big ask to come over to Alexandra Park for the race but for us it is a case of now or never," said owner Tony Conte.

Just Glorious is trained by Maree Caldow in Victoria and her husband, leading driver John, will partner the 5-year-old on Friday.

He is a prime example of a horse who would almost certainly not have made the trip had Stig been headlining the Rowe Cup field, with One Over Kenny as his support act.

One Over Kenny will still start a warm favourite on Friday night and while she is a champion in her own right, she is not quite as scary as Stig.

Lleyton H, who has been campaigning in Australia, will also return home for the Rowe, and along with stablemate Galleons Sunset, last year's winner Our Sunny Whiz and southerners Springbank Richard and Another Moment provide a stronger field than Alexandra Park officials could have hoped for.

One Over Kenny's draw of barrier one may not be ideal for a mare used to more space after recently coming off the unruly but the other big names at Friday night's massive meeting will relish their good draws.

Champion pacer Auckland Reactor could start as short as $1.04 in fixed odds after drawing perfectly at barrier two in the $200,000 Messenger Pace.

And Ima Gold Digger should continue his winning rampage after drawing the ace in the $100,000 Breckon Bloodstock Derby.

The other group one sees a capacity field in the $170,000 Sires' Stakes Fillies Championship, with Flying Pocketlands set to complete a treble.

- NZ Herald

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