Greg Hope has no regrets about missing one of the richest races in pacing history - even though he could have won it.
Hope and his wife Nina run one of the star stables of New Zealand Cup week at Addington, preparing Monbet to win the Trotting Free-For-All and Mossdale Conner to place in the NZ Cup and go within a nose of winning the NZ Free-For-All.
That confirmed them as serious players in the group one harness racing scene in New Zealand but they could have been aiming at a far richer target this week.
Mossdale Conner was one of the last New Zealand-trained horses left in the Inter Dominion, which kicks off in Perth on Friday night.
Once the Bledisloe Cup of harness racing, bringing together the best pacers from both countries, the series is still worth mega-bucks but most Kiwis won't even know it is on.
After being tried in various formats over the past decade, the Interdoms reverts to three rounds of three heats followed by a A$1.3 million ($1.43 million) final at Gloucester Park on December 13.
That makes it the second richest pacing race ever staged outside North America but the fact no Kiwis are contesting the series, plus the time difference with West Australia, means the series will struggle for the recognition it deserves here.
That would have been different had original nominees such as Christen Me, Sky Major, Smolda or even Mossdale Conner gone to Perth, or even more so had retired champ Adore Me still been racing and competed.
But the retirements, injuries and form slumps, coupled with its closeness to New Zealand Cup week and the poor recent record of New Zealand-trained pacers in Perth, has created a mega-rich series without one single Kiwi rep.
Hope admits he would like to change that next year.
"Sure I'd like to have been there with Mossdale Conner but I didn't think we could do both Cup week and the Inters justice," he admits
"So we had to choose one and obviously Cup week was closer to home and he is still leaning as an open class horse.
"He was very good at Cup week and had it not been for a flat tyre I am pretty sure he would have won the Free-For-All but a season of open class racing here will be good for him.
"But Perth is a realistic option next year, especially with his gate speed and love of sprint racing."
And the Hopes will still have an interest in the series, retaining a share in Jason Rulz, who has gone from their stable to WA trainer Michael Brennan.
The lack of the big-name Kiwis and defending champion Beautide through injury has seen Lennytheshark emerge as clear favourite for the series, which starts at Gloucester Park, heads to Bunbury next Tuesday, then returns to Gloucester Park for the final round of heats.
Those heats will be run close to or after midnight NZ time but the final is at a more palatable 8.50pm (NZ time) on December 13, which also doubles as Hong Kong International Race Day, providing punters with a high class Sunday night of racing.
With Mossdale Conner being allowed to miss the Interdoms, he is likely to race at Methven next then come north to contest the Auckland Cup on December 31, where he could meet his Free-For-All conqueror Tiger Tara, Sky Major and rising stars Have Faith In Me and Hughie Green.
Mossdale Conner will be joined up north by stablemate Monbet, who will contest a series of races at Cambridge and Alexandra Park before the Hopes decide whether he is advanced enough to contest the Victorian trotting riches of late summer.
• Pacing's annual transtasman contest has no Kiwi reps this season.
• It starts in Perth on Friday night.
• The A$1.3 million final on December 13 is the second richest harness race in Australasian history.
• A combination of poor form, retirements, carnival clashes and travel factors are behind the New Zealand no-show.