Racing: Smoken Up heading to NZ via Queensland

By Michael Guerin

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Australia's greatest pacer may be heading away from Christchurch at the moment but that has still put him on track to return to Addington for the New Zealand Cup in four weeks.

Smoken Up now looks certain to contest the $600,000 classic on November 6, with bookmakers moving him into favourite on both sides of the Tasman.

Oddly, his chances of making it to Addington improved when trainer Lance Justice undertook a huge road trip from Melbourne to Queensland to contest Saturday night's A$75,000 Gold Coast Cup.

Justice told Smoken Up's owners he would only drive the veteran pacing freak all that way if he only had to head back to Sydney and then fly to New Zealand, rather than a return trip to Victoria.

"At this stage I'd say we will be at Addington, that is the intention anyway," said Justice.

"And after two races in Queensland he should be very fit and the Queensland trip became easier knowing he could fly to New Zealand from Sydney."

Smoken Up has drawn barrier six in Saturday night's feature against Mr Feelgood and Washakie.

Justice's confirmation he is likely to be at Addington has seen Smoken Up tighten into $3.50 favourite with our TAB for the Cup, pushing out the prices for Auckland Reactor and Monkey King.

While his win in the Interdominion Final in April is still under a drug inquiry cloud, Smoken Up's form before and since suggest he will start Cup favourite unless one of the Kiwi stars does something dramatic in the next fortnight.

The leading South Island chances Auckland Reactor, Monkey King and Smiling Shard get their chance to do that at Addington on Friday night, while the northern open-class pacers race at Alexandra Park in the Andrew Simms Newmarket Handicap Pace on the same night.

One horse who won't be in the New Zealand Cup, though, is Franco Emirate, who again blew the standing start in Sunday's Methven Cup and has been withdrawn from Cup contention.

Meanwhile, efforts to sell more New Zealand harness racing to overseas markets gained some small momentum this week with the signing of a deal with South African racing authorities.

While harness racing is a poor relation of thoroughbred racing in South Africa, races from this country will be shown on their racing television channel from this month.

Up to 300 races a season, mainly from Thursday and Friday nights, will be broadcast in South Africa under the initial agreement.

- NZ Herald

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