Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2005/2006 Season
Leg 3:   Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup   2005/2006 Results   Points
              8/11/2005  Addington, Christchurch, NZ  3200m  Standing Start  $NZ400,000
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Mainland Banner accomplishes rare and mighty mission

by Mike Grainger

This article was first published in New Zealand Harness Racing Weekly, 10th November 2005, and is reproduced here with permission.

No-one told Mainland Banner the magnitude of the mission.

If they did, she didn’t hear.

No-one told her she was a girl in a male domain.

Not being sexist, she didn’t care.

No-one told her she was running further than she had before.

Knowing she could just keep on keeping on, she knew it wouldn’t matter.

And, with the magnificent Christchurch Casino sign beckoning in the distance and just 20 seconds away, Mainland Banner hoisted full sail and let rip.

She quickly collared the uncomfortable Mi Muchacho who was holding on by heart alone, and put a goodbye break on the bunch.

Wider out, Just An Excuse worked home strongly after settling handy at the 1600m, beaten for second by Alta Serna, who dashed home after being held up to a minor extent on the turn.

Then came Bobs Blue Boy.

How did Mainland Banner become the youngest mare to win the $400,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington on Tuesday?


Mainland Banner NZ

No-one better to give us a match report than driver, Ricky May.

“I was a wee bit nervous before the race, because of all the hype she was getting.

“All New Zealand must have been talking about it.

“But the good thing was that Robert left the race completely to me.

“She was a wee bit keen in the preliminary, and didn’t make that good a beginning.

“It must have cost her two or three lengths, and she felt like she didn’t quite know what to do. She just wasn’t concentrating.”

May, who had won the race with Inky Lord in 1989, and Iraklis in 1997, settled her five places back on the outer, with the early line ahead being Likmesiah, Jackson Browne, Bobs Blue Boy and Howard Bromac.

He sat until the day-trippers had gone round, and left on his own just before the mile. He didn’t hurry and none came after them.

“I had to chase her up to get round them.”

Before the post a lap out, he was second and happy.   “I knew she could win sitting parked from there.

“On the corner I still had a good hold on her, and when she heard the other horse start coming on the inside, I could feel her surge again,” he said.

The curtain fell with Mainland Banner home by a length and a quarter in 4.04. She wrecked the hopes of the sprinters by running her last quarter in 26.9.

May was in head-shaking form after getting the job done.  “It was a great training feat … she’s phenomenal … she’s an incredible horse …there are no words to describe it, and she still doesn’t know how to race.”

And to his credit, he openly wondered about the target when he first heard about it.  “I wasn’t that keen on it when I first knew that it was on.

“I’d seen Happy Sunrise go through the same thing when he’d had just a few more starts, and he didn’t handle it.
“I knew she could do it, but I thought it was just a year too soon,” he said.

With the game plan underway, May put his weight behind it.

If he needed comfort, it came last week when down-the-road trainer Cran Dalgety told him Mainland Banner worked “sensationally” on his track.

No-one told her Ricky May knew then that she could complete the mission.

The only other Cup-winning mares in the past 50 years have been: Kym’s Girl, Blossom Lady, Bonnie’s Chance and Armalight.


All Time Pacing and Trotting Records pre-2001 please refer to the Australian Harness Racing Annual.

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