By Josh Jenkins
Trots fans, November was an eventful month in the trots for me.
I attended a race meeting in Christchurch, which was as classy and magnificent as any sporting event I have attended; I watched my four year-old punch out two wins and a second within a fortnight and then tragedy struck the entire trots community when reigning filly of the year Petacular had to be euthanised after an incident in the paddock.
Talk about ups and downs.
Anyhow, I will start with the good stuff.
New Zealand racing has always been something I love watching. I think the world of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, so seeing them live, dominating NZ Cup Day was amazing. Addington Raceway puts on an outstanding event, equalling anything I have been to in either horse racing code - and that includes the recent Cox Plate.
Lazarus is incredible to witness. He truly is the complete package and watching him take on Australia's best in the Inter Dominion will be something else..
The All Stars dominated Cup Day (as usual), which meant I made a few bucks - always a bonus!
The following day we were lucky enough to be shown around the All Stars training facility at Rolleston, about 30km from Addington Raceway. The attention to detail at the All Stars barn was noticeable. Stable manager and ex-Aussie Michelle Nielsen was kind enough to show us around, which we were extremely grateful for. Walking around the farm was like a who's who of current day trotting royalty: Lazarus, Ultimate Machete, Vincent, Dream About Me, Heaven Rocks ... you get the picture!
As we embarked on the 'tourist' component of our holiday we were still able to sneak in a few races from Gunbower Cup Day. Race six was where my focus was with my improving pacer Sammy Strikes.
Sammy has been racing nicely and thanks to a swell steer from Mick Stanley, Sammy paid for a big afternoon/evening at The Pig & Whistle in Queenstown. Those are the moments when racing is one of the most thrilling things you can experience.
Unfortunately, there are also lowlights.
And boy did we all experience that at the backend of the month. Petacular, a two-time Group 1 winner, suffered an injury in the spelling paddock and horrifically had to be euthanised.
I know better than almost anyone how much Mick and wife Gen adored 'Bonnie' so this loss has hit them hard, like it has anyone who truly loves following great horses.
A great horse she was, never unplaced in 26 starts, Petacular was adored for her toughness and consistent brilliance. I've learned throughout my time in the trots that the special horses build a bond with trainer, owner, connections and followers because of the way they race and behave - just like our favourite athletes.
Petacular was everything you want in a racehorse but to those who knew her as Bonnie, she was much more than that!
RIP Big Girl.
By Josh Jenkins
Trots fans, each month I am going to be providing you with a synopsis of everything I’ve enjoyed in the world of harness racing.
Being smack bang in the middle of my off-season (footy talk is banned here) it’s been easy for me to catch all the happenings at the trots.
The Allied Express Victoria Cup is a likely starting point for a monthly highlight but, gee, the Maryborough Gold Cup was a race worth of Grand Circuit status.
Up and coming pacer San Carlo made arguably his grandest statement when he exploded off the arm to lead and win against an incredible group of competitors. The big fella punched out four consecutive quarters under 29.5 seconds and, to be frank, he won like he was jogging. Here’s hoping he can press on and be one of Victoria’s prime hopes at the December Inter Dominion series (Yes, I’m still a Victorian!).
Across the ditch, Lazarus and his All-Stars counterparts have resumed and watching those remarkable horses go round is something I love. It won’t be long until the blue silks of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen make an assault on the Summer of Glory.
Closer to home and away from the race track, I took the opportunity to head to Michael Stanley’s at Burrumbeet to check on the progress of the horses I have a share in. Excitingly, I took shares in a handful of two year-olds after the yearling sales earlier in 2017.
It’s still a while until they’ll see the race track but Charlie, Shark, Hutchy and Sooty are all progressing quite nicely!
It was awesome to be able to go to Mick’s property and watch the horses work. A few horses swam, some were jogging quite moderately whilst a couple were really humming in anticipation for upcoming races. That’s a part of the trots that makes it fantastic. Mick and I are good mates but the opportunity to go out and see what your horses are up to is excellent.
My hometown Swan Hill Cup kicked off the 2017/18 Country Cups campaign with veteran Messini claiming victory. The $25,000 bonus attached to the Country Cups is an excellent idea from HRV. Hopefully I have a horse capable of running around in the cups one day because each race is unique and enjoyable.
It was great to see a few stars return to the track throughout October. Shadow Sax, Keayang Steamer and Milly Perez were among those guns who resumed and it would be remiss of me not to mention Lennytheshark’s dominant Victoria Cup win. Yes, he had the plum draw but he punched out a 1:53.2 last mile and ran away from some very good horses. He again looms as the premier Victorian open class horse as he marches toward the Inters, Summer of Glory and Miracle Mile.
October was a magnificent insight into what awaits us trots fans as the days pass us by.
Enjoy your November of racing and we’ll touch base again next month.