New Zealand’s first Trot Slot race is confirmed and will see Cambridge host the biggest night in New Zealand harness racing.
The TAB Slot Trot will be run alongside the Race by Grins at Cambridge on April 12 next year for a stake of $575,000, making it the richest trot race ever held in Australasia.
It will have eight slots, most of them purchased by the connections of leading trotters so will have an old-fashioned sweepstake race feel to it.
The eight slots have been taken by: TAB NZ, Aldebaran Park, All Stars Racing/Chris Ryder, Cullen Breeding, Haras Des trotteurs, Hidden Honey, Strike Won Racing and the Taylor St Racing Club Syndicate.
Many of those are easy to link to current open-class stars, with Oscar Bonavena, Muscle Mountain, Bolt For Brilliance all having their connections involved with Aldebaran Park would have the option to send Aldebaran Zeus back to the race a year after he won the open class trot at Cambridge last April.
And the first slot holder not linked to a horse didn’t take long to show their hand with TAB NZ securing wonderful mare Queen Elida to fill their slot and most likely from barrier 1 in the 2200m mobile.
New Zealand TAB boss Cameron Rodger said Queen Elida is a perfect result for a brand new race on the New Zealand racing calendar with her deep Kiwi roots.
“She is from one of New Zealand’s great trotting families, and the owners – the Barrons and the McKenzies – hail from one of New Zealand harness racing’s great nurseries in Southland,” Rodger said.
“For this first edition of the TAB Trot Slot, we really wanted to give the race a trans-Tasman flavour and Queen Elida has given us the best of both worlds, as a true-blue equine dual citizen.”
Part-owner Tony Barron said Queen Elida’s owners jumped at the opportunity to partner up with Entain and TAB for the Slot Trot.
“We were looking at buying a slot ourselves, but when the TAB approached us, it seemed a great fit,” he said.
So many of the big names wanted for the race are as good as taken and the biggest question will be whether the connections of Just Believe want to return to Sweden or come across the Tasman for a race they could even start favourite in. If he comes, the race will have at least six group 1 winners and the six best trotters in Australasia with two slots left to fill.
With the $1 million Race by Grins set to have a field with all the elite New Zealand pacers and at least one or two of Australia’s best the night will not only be the richest in New Zealand harness racing history but has the potential to be one of the strongest open class meetings here in New Zealand this century.
One mare who could earn a spot in the Race By Grins will bypass her scheduled outing at Alexandra Park tonight.
Aardie’s Express was down to start off a 35m handicap in the Franklin Country Cup but trainer Steve Telfer has chosen to give her a further week to recover from her fifth in the NZ Free-For-All.
“So she will race next week and on to the Queen Of Hearts a week later,” says Telfer.
The premiership-winning trainer still believes he can win tonight’s 2700m standing start as both Fernleigh Cash (20m) and Allamericanlover (35m) are working well, with Telfer opting for the latter as his better chance.
Tonight’s Trotting Cup looks ideal for Lovemeto (R9, No.5), who is back from Australia and preparing for the NZ Trotting Derby on December 10.
Michael Guerin wrote his first nationally published racing articles while still in school and started writing about horse racing and the gambling industry for the Herald as a 20-year-old in 1990. He became the Herald’s Racing Editor in 1995 and covers the world’s biggest horse racing carnivals.