When it comes to Monbet even the smallest setback has a significant ripple effect.

The champion trotter missed a trial at Ashburton yesterday after banging a leg the night before but trainer Greg Hope says it will only delay his campaign a week.

But so dominant is Monbet in the market for his first major aim for the season, the Dominion on November 11, some bookies suspended markets as soon as the rumours started.

"It really isn't anything serious," says Hope.


"He looks like he has banged his leg, just above the knee, maybe on a fence or even his feed bin.

"Because of who he is we had some x-rays taken and even some fluid from the area analysed and he is fine.

It means he will have three easy days and then back to work so I don't in any way see it costing him any fitness for the Dominion.

"He is that big and strong this time in I would say he will definitely be better than last year if it wasn't for the fact people would think I was crazy for saying that."

Hope says the plan is to race Monbet just once before the Dominion, in the Flying Mile at Ashburton on October 24, but he would not be hugely concerned if he missed that race.

"We can work at home with horses like Harrysul and Quite A Moment so we get a good gauge on him and even if he went into the Dominion with only the Cup trial trot the week before I think he would be fine." Hope has also ruled out any chance of Monbet starting in the NZ Free-For-All, on Cup day November 8.

"Definitely not.

"If the Dominion was Cup Day and the Free-For-All three days later we would, but not the way it is presently."

That will be music to the ears of rival trainers as they queue for the crumbs from Monbet's table, especially with New Zealand's three best other trotters - Master Lavros, Stent and Speeding Spur - set to miss that carnival.

Monbet would be a dominant Dominion favourite anyway but with his only serious rivals sidelined, horses who wouldn't normally be in the Dominion conversation are edging up the market.

I would say he will definitely be better than last year if it wasn't for the fact people would think I was crazy for saying that.


The most surprising of them is Australian veteran Kyvalley Blur, who makes his New Zealand debut at Alexandra Park on Friday. A perennial group race placegetter, Kyvalley Blur is trained by former Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley, with two big recent wins at Melton sealing his trip.

"He has got a lot little stronger and is racing well but the reality of this trip is, the big trot races over there are looking a bit light behind Monbet," says Lilley.

"I am going to the Cup meeting anyway because we have Messini for the Cup and this horse has earned his trip.

"And Monbet is not likely to start in all the biggest races so he could even pick up a race like the Trotting Free-For-All."

But Lilley's stable star and Australia's best trotter Keystone Del is almost certain not to make the trip.

Good enough to beat both Monbet, when he galloped, and Speeding Spur in the Grand Prix last season, Keystone Del has little form from a standing start (Dominion) so Lilley is likely to keep him in Australia.

"There is a A$50,000 race at home the day after the Dominion that probably suits him better so I doubt he will come, unless something happens to Monbet between now and then."

Kyvalley Blur starts from the outside of the front line against moderate opposition on Friday night.

"He is a lovely gaited horse so I am sure he will handle Alexandra Park then he will head down south."

Meanwhile, most of the New Zealand Cup favourites clash in the $40,000 Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday, the most notable exception being Tiger Tara, who after disappointing last start is being reserved for the Ashburton Flying Stakes.

Monbet's market

• Monbet is red hot for the Dominion Trot.

• News of a small bump to his leg saw some markets suspended.

• His three biggest rivals are all set to miss the NZ Cup carnival.

• The New Zealand Cup favourites clash again at Addington on Friday