New Zealand's greatest trotter will try to emulate Australia's champion galloper Winx.

Which means you might see less of Monbet than you expect next season, but he will be around for a lot longer.

Monbet hasn't raced since setting a national record winning the Dominion at Addington in November, with an operation to remove bone chips soon after ruining his season.

Remarkably those three starts alone will almost certainly see him win NZ Trotter of the Year again at the national awards come July, especially as two of his wins were at group one level and the other at group three.


Monbet's record in the last two seasons is jaw-dropping, having won 14 of his last 15 starts, 12 of those at group level, with his sole defeat coming when he galloped in a race at Melton.

The winner of $770,714 he only has to stay sound to become a rarity in this part of the world - a trotting millionaire.

And trainer Greg Hope has a plan for how he is going to achieve that.

Hope and wife Nina welcomed Monbet back into work last week and couldn't be happier with the sleek son of French stallion Love You.

"He looks great and all the vet reports are telling us the right things," Hope said. "He ended up having two chips taken out of his knee but the joints are really healthy and we have had x-rays and a lot of tests on that area done.

"He looks big and strong so it is back to work now."

But back to work won't mean a huge workload as the Hopes are thinking quality, not quantity, with the rising six-year-old.

"I'd like to think we could have him for another two, maybe three seasons at least," he says of the gelding.

"But I don't want to over-race him and he doesn't need to be in every dogfight.

"So he might only have six or eight starts a season from now on. You see that with a lot of the really good gallopers, like Winx, they are set for the best races and don't have long campaigns.

"And he is the sort of horse who could do that too because he comes to hand quite quickly.

"So he might not even race until the Cup carnival at Addington, have two runs there and then head to Auckland at Christmas."

That would suggest four races, five at most, for Monbet this year all going well while the second half of next season could be restricted to focusing on the NZ Trot Champs, Anzac Cup and Rowe Cup.

The question would be whether the Hopes wanted to add in a one-race Australian campaign aimed at the revamped Great Southern Star, which is now a one-off race at Melton.

That would be a far easier work rate than the usual open class trotters, who are often the iron horses of racing and can easily top 20 starts for the season.

This season alone Monbet's group one-winning stablemate Quite A Moment had 16 starts, while another group one winning mare Sunny Ruby had 22. And open class journeyman Valmagne has had 31 starts this term with more to come.

The return of Monbet and his also injured arch rival Speeding Spur up against a talented four-year-old crop headed by Marcoola, Temporale, Lemond and Wilma's Mate would see some real depth to the elite trotting ranks next season.

Meanwhile, the Hopes are thrilled with how three-year-old Enghien has returned from his Northern Derby winning campaign and say he is thriving as he aims at four more major races this season.

"The trip away has been great for him and he will go to the Sales Series at Addington next week before the Jewels. And he will keep going for the Victoria Derby and Breeders Crown in Australia."

Mighty Monbet

• 34 starts, 23 wins, five placings.

• Stakes: $770,714

• Group one wins: Dominion, Rowe Cup, NZ Free-For-All (twice), Anzac Cup, NZ Trot Champs, 2-y-o Jewels, 4-y-o Jewels, Australian Trotting Champs, National Trot.