Racing: For starters, there's a big Cup problem for Monbet

By Michael Guerin

Strange rules of racing leaves fixed odd punters in no-man’s land for Alex Park feature.
Punters can't be sure where Monbet will start from in Friday's $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. Picture / Stuart McCormick
Punters can't be sure where Monbet will start from in Friday's $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. Picture / Stuart McCormick

One of racing's strangest rules leaves fixed odds punters in an odd no-man's land in the buildup to Friday's $150,000 Rowe Cup.

Auckland's richest trotting race will be dominated by Monbet, with many punters believing he will win no matter where he starts from.

But that is the problem: they can't be sure where he will start from.

The exceptional four-year-old has drawn the inside of the second line in the group one trot, from where bad luck is at least a possible factor.

But if there is a scratching in the great race, Monbet will move from his inside second line draw to the outside of the front line, barrier nine, in direct contrast to what happens in mobile races.

In any mobile race in Australasia, a horse cannot move from the second line to the front because of scratchings, so punters pretty much know what they are getting once the fields come out, especially important with so much fixed odds betting.

But for some bizarre reason, scarcely believable in the modern punting age, horses in standing starts races in New Zealand can move up from the second line to the front line if there is a scratching.

That rule doesn't apply to late scratchings but it means punters who want to have a big crack at trotting's hottest property before Friday can't do so with any certainty about where he starts from.

It may not affect Monbet, especially with arch rival Speeding Spur sadly sidelined by injury, and he will start a hot favourite no matter where he ends up.

But a wide front line scratching would probably suit trainer Greg Hope more, as Monbet would be far less likely to get jammed up in early traffic, with bad luck seemingly his greatest rival.

Just how short bookies open Monbet will become evident today. But Monbet will need to be awfully hot to break the Rowe Cup record for a favourite.

That is held by Lyell Creek, who incredibly paid $1.15 when he overcome a 15m handicap to win in 2001, one of his three wins in the race.

I Can Doosit was $1.20 when he distanced his rivals in the 2012 Cup, ironically from one on the second line, while One Over Kenny only paid $1.40 when she won the second of her Rowe Cups in 2009.

Monbet won't be the only hot red hot favourite for a group one on Friday night as the star attractions in the other major races have all drawn the front line.

Taylor Mile winner Field Marshal starts from a far better barrier of four in the $100,000 Messenger, while Spanish Armada, who overcame a tough run to win the Caduceus Club Classic last Friday, comes into barrier five in the Sires' Stakes Championship for the juvenile pacing fillies.

Spanish Armada will have plenty of familiar faces alongside her, with the Purdon-Rasmussen stable remarkably having five of the six starters off the front in the mobile 1700m, surely a record.

And Marcoola, who was forced to sit parked to win the Sires' Stakes Trot last Friday, has the perfect barrier two in the Northern Trotting Derby as he tries to add that classic to his New Zealand Derby.

While Alex Park will be the focus on Friday, unbeaten three-year-old filly Dream About Me will have her first New Zealand start for the season in a Nevele R heat at Addington.


Race 7, 8.44pm, $100,000, 2700m

1: Robbie Burns
2: Little Rascal
3: Hug The Wind
4: Field Marshal
5: Bettor Spirits
6: My Kiwi Mate
7: Maverick
8: Tas Man Bromac
9: The Faithful
10: Risk

Rowe Cup

Race 8, 9.13pm, $150,000, 3200m

1: Realmein
2: Waterloo Sunset
3: Valmagne
4: Jag's Invasion
5: Queen Kenny
6: Paramount Dream
7: Al Bundy
8: Yagunnakissmeornot
9: Sheemon
10: Monbet
11: Blackguard's Corner
12: Quite A Moment (ur)
13: Scarrymcleary (ur)

- NZ Herald

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