Horse racing: Short odds order of the day

By Michael Guerin

Monbet and Lazarus look certain to repeat their wins from Tuesday but you won’t get rich supporting them
Monbet (left) should have few problems adding the Dominion title to the Free-For-All Trot trophy he won on Tuesday
Monbet (left) should have few problems adding the Dominion title to the Free-For-All Trot trophy he won on Tuesday

Greg Hope is confident he knows the answer to the only question surrounding Monbet in the $260,000 Dominion at Addington today.

The champion trotter sets up a red-hot group one double with Lazarus in the New Zealand Free-For-All as the two glamour boys of harness racing look to extend their Cup week domination.

While Lazarus' jaw-dropper in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday was all anybody was talking about, Monbet racked up another national record when he overcame a second-line draw to win the Free-For-All Trot just two hours earlier.

In doing so, he downed Marcoola, who isn't in today's Dominion so it is hard to see how Monbet gets beaten unless Tuesday's run exposed his sole Achilles Heal - backing up from a hard run.

The only time Monbet has been beaten in the past 12 months was in the Grand Prix in Melbourne, where he looked badly out of sorts after two hard runs the previous two Saturdays.

He has blazing speed and French-bred stamina but he is still quite a light horse who seems to take a lot out of himself when he races, with Tuesday's national record win no walk in the park.

But trainer Greg Hope says the signs heading into today are perfect.

"He pulled up perfectly sound after his win, which was the first thing," says Hope. "And he has spent a couple of days on the lead rope jogging behind other horses and seems very happy.

"There are no signs of him being tired or knocked around, so I think we are going into this as good as we can be."

Hope is also happy with the wide draw on the front line and his greatest concern is the free-going Bordeaux may be determined to keep the front and therefore luck could come into play. Because if Monbet is able to work forward and wrest the lead, the race should be over.

Bordeaux has been a big improver this spring and could take some catching, while newcomers who didn't contest the Free-For-All on Tuesday who have some hope include the mares Sunny Ruby and Harriet Of Mot.

However, as they both showed at Kaikoura they are hardly foolproof and would need the favourite to have some bad luck to beat him.

So the best place value for those not keen on Monbet's skinny win odds might be Australian visitor Kyvalley Blur, a hardened old warrior who will keep trucking over the 3200m.

Skinny odds are again the problem for punters in the Pacing Free-For-All because after his demolition job on Tuesday, Lazarus could start around $1.20.

His draw is potentially tricky on paper as he has plenty of speedsters drawn around him but the respect he has earned this spring is likely to see him work to the front as not many drivers will want a relentless Lazarus sitting outside them, especially when the money for second is so good.

So he should simply win again, but that doesn't solve our problem of how to make money out of the race.

Tiger Tara won this race last year and was a brave second in the Cup so if he can hold up from the ace draw he could be the best place bet, although Field Marshall must be a chance of crossing him early.

The latter was slightly disappointing when third to Dream About Me in the junior free-for-all on Tuesday but if he was to sit behind Lazarus, should the favourite lead, then he becomes the obvious quinella or place hope.

Dream About Me has been so magnificent her entire career it is hard to believe she could be $7 or $8 today but it is hard to see a pathway to the winner's circle, with her best chance being a war early and the chance to swoop late.

Today, she finds herself not only racing Lazarus for the first time but also her older half-brother Christen Me, an incredible rarity in pacing at this level.

Favourites' Friday
- $260,000 Dominion Trot dominated by Monbet.
- $260,000 NZ Pacing Free-For-All dominated by Lazarus.

- NZ Herald

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