Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:  Trotters 2001/2002 Season
Leg 5:  Inter Island Horse Transport New Zealand National Trot 2001/2002Results   Points
             31/12/2001  Alexandra Park, Auckland, NZ  2700m  Mobile Start  $NZ50,000
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The Grand Circuit for trotters temporarily returned to New Zealand on New Year’s Eve where it was part of the Auckland Cup program at Auckland’s Alexandra Park. Surprisingly, the country long-noted for its depth of square-gaiters would have just seven contesting this important event.

The race would see the return from injury of former Inter Dominion Champion Special Force NZ, which had made a much quicker recovery than had earlier been expected.

Mark Purdon would be back ‘home’ from Christchurch with two of the seven starters. He elected to drive Sheezadoosie (NZ), with Colin De Filippi engaged to steer Waihemo Hanger NZ. Tim Butt reported having given Take A Moment NZ an easy time after their return from Melbourne.

Once again the Butt brothers and Joe Clementson’s Major Decision (NZ) would fight out a major trotting race, only this time ‘The Major’ finished too powerfully for Take A Moment NZ.

After the race Anthony Butt told the media he believed the reigning Inter Dominion champion had been a little too fresh. (A few days later Take A Moment NZ would turn the tables on Major Decision in winning the $27,500 Flying Mile at Cambridge in 1:57.2. It would be the fourth time this season the pair had quinellaed a major trotting race.)

Major Decision, like Take A Moment NZ, was sired by Armbro Invasion USA. Its mile rate of 2:01.5 in winning the National Trot had bettered the previous race record set 11 years earlier by Fraggle Rock NZ.

After the race, winning trainer Joe Clementson said he was reluctant to take Major Decision (NZ) to Melbourne for the $100,000 Australasian Trotters Championship, and was also unlikely to be in Sydney for the Inter Dominion.

He had his sights set on something closer to home. “I want to come back here and win the Rowe Cup in April.”


Major Decision NZ

The Butt brothers said they would definitely be heading back to Melbourne. When pressed on whether Take A Moment NZ could upstage La Coocaracha this time, Anthony Butt was hopeful. “The New Zealand trainers of our leading trotters should not give up on beating her just yet. She seems to have more speed than her Kiwi rivals, and she does have a beautiful gait. But the Australasian Trotting Championship is likely to be a different sort of race to those we contested last month. I think with more good Kiwi trotters racing, there could be more mid-race moves, and that will make it harder on all the good horses.”

Mark Purdon reported how Waihemo Hanger NZ had been troubled that week by a slight cold. “He will go home to Christchurch to get over it and will bypass Melbourne and be set for the Rowe Cup.” Until recently, the time-honoured Rowe Cup was held in May. This season it would bring to a conclusion the Grand Circuit on April 19 at Auckland.

Last Sunset NZ, which broke up again in the National Trot and beat only one home, several days later trotted throughout the Flying Mile at Cambridge but was run down in the straight by Take A Moment NZ and Major Decision. It was the first time in four starts that Last Sunset NZ had not broken in a race. Connections were doubtful of sending the horse across to Melbourne with its latest form seemingly under a cloud.

Tony Herlihy said he believed the hard run two starts before when it had made up much ground after twice breaking, had taken the edge of it. The trainer had not slammed the door entirely on a trip to Australia. “If he does go to Melbourne, I may leave him over there with Brian Hancock to be prepared for the Inter Dominion in Sydney.” 


Australian Trotters Grand Circuit commenced 1999/2000 season.

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