Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Trotters 2001/2002 Season
Leg 2:  Clark Boyce Lawyers Dominion Trotting Handicap 2001/2002Results   Points
             23/11/2001  Addington, Christchurch, NZ  3200m  Standing Start  $NZ100,000
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Two of the four annual Grand Circuit races for trotters in New Zealand are handicaps and, as happens with the handicapping of the NZ Cup for pacers, it is common to have just one trotter handicapped in the Dominion Handicap. Take A Moment NZ was the lone backmarker, penalised 10 metres in a field of 13.

Four days after the ordinary effort of Take A Moment NZ in the big Free-For-All, trainer Tim Butt announced the horse was not as sore as it was after that opening leg to the Grand Circuit. “We have been playing catch-up all week, but we still have three days to get him right, and I think he will be there on the day of the race.”

One trotter who would not be there was Special Force NZ. The 1999 Inter Dominion Champion who had impressed driver Colin De Filippi with its fourth to Last Sunset NZ, had torn a tendon in a hind leg. Respected Christchurch veterinarian Dr Bill Bishop told connections the tendon could have been suspect for some time. It would be the second major injury to sideline this fine performer. Special Force NZ had missed much of 2000 with a leg injury.

Co-trainer Dave McGowan told the press that this latest set-back did not seem as serious as the earlier injury. "But we are looking at a three or four months spell, so all the good races will be gone by then. I am sure the horse will be back,” McGowan added, thinking about the 2003 Inter Dominion at Addington.

Whether Waihemo Hanger NZ campaigned in Melbourne depended largely on how it performed in the two-mile handicap. The trotter had shown he was not always reliable away from a standing start.

Mark Purdon was aware part-owner Dan Mielicki was keen for the horse to contest the Bill Collins Mile at Moonee Valley. However, the trainer explained how he felt the horse might benefit more in the long term by not rushing into the deep end too quickly. “I know the horse’s capabilities,” said Purdon, “I am of the opinion he would be among the top four trotters we have here right now. I have not finalised a program for him just yet, as I want to see how he performs this week.”


Take A Moment NZ

Going into this race there were many who believed this event would decide who was the best trotter in New Zealand. Instead, it would pose more questions than answers. Three of the main four fancies self destructed.  Waihemo Hanger NZ blew the start and was out of business early. Last Sunset NZ led at the 1300-metre mark with Mountain Gold NZ right on its back. The two from the North Isle appeared more than likely to fight out the finish.

Just when Take A Moment NZ was starting to go forward, Last Sunset NZ with no warning went into a gallop, hampering Mountain Gold NZ, with it too breaking up. Take A Moment NZ went on to win from Major Decision (NZ), with Last Sunset NZ making up a great amount of ground to finish third. Stewards later disqualified Last Sunset NZ, relegating it to last.

Tony Herlihy later stated he could find no reason why Last Sunset NZ had suddenly broken up. Maurice McKendry, a former No 1 driver in New Zealand, lamented the scrimmage when it sent Mountain Gold NZ into a gallop. “My horse was bolting at the time. Had I stayed in front earlier instead of handing up to Last Sunset NZ, he would probably have won.” The race brought back memories of the Brisbane Inter Dominion Grand Final when Last Sunset NZ started favourite and broke, with Take A Moment NZ trotting on strongly to victory.

For the Butt brothers, it was the third successive win in this race, with Lyell Creek NZ having won the previous two Dominion Handicaps. Take A Moment NZ was having just its 25th start in a race. To have advanced its winning tally to 14 victories was a splendid record, and supported Tim Butt’s belief this horse would go on improving with further racing.

Australian Trotters Grand Circuit commenced 1999/2000 season.

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