Australasian Grand Circuit
Stories:   Pacers 2006/2007 Season
Leg 7:  Wrest Point Tasmanian Pacing Championship   2006/2007 Results   Points
             10/12/2006  Hobart, Tas  2579m  Standing Start  $150,000
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Having its first start in Australia, Tribute NZ raced itself into Inter Dominion calculations with a comfortable win in Sunday evening’s Wrest Point Tasmanian Pacing Championship in Hobart over Wideford Hill NZ and Strauss NZ. 

However stewards later found reinsman Anthony Butt (Tribute NZ) guilty of having seriously interfered with the favourite Robin Hood soon after the start, suspending him until New Year’s Day.  Butt will miss this week’s big Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley, and the opening round of the Inter Dominion heats to be held in Melbourne on December 29 before the series moves on to Adelaide. 

The well-backed Poppys Boy, usually a fast beginner, blotted its manners this time at the start.  The race was as good as over when soon after Butt, in crossing with Tribute NZ, interfered with the sole backmarker Robin Hood which was away well, sending it into a gallop where it trailed the field home.  

The ease of the win in getting away with a mile rate of 2:03 was reflected in Butt’s first comments after the race.  When club secretary John Devereux was placing the rug on the winning horse, he remarked to Butt: “That looked easy.”  The Kiwi horseman replied: “We never got out of a jog.” 

Tribute NZ is a lightly raced five-year-old stallion having gone into the race having just 33 starts for nine wins and eight placings and stakemoney of $230,134.  This son of In The Pocket USA from Going Royce (NZ) is trained by Butt’s brother Tim and raced by J. and P. Cocks.  It put the writing on the wall at its previous start when second at Addington to Baileys Dream NZ, its third start in 10 days. 

Polemarker Wideford Hill NZ, trained at Melton by Merv Williamson and usually driven by Greg Sugars, went into the race as the ‘baby’ of the field in terms of experience having had just 19 lifetime starts for nine wins and six placings.   With the talented Jodi Quinlan in the sulky, she had this gelding out first to be the early leader until Butt made his play to go to the front in the move which later brought stewards down hard on him. 

Strauss NZ trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, another standing-start specialist and winner of the recent Nyah Cup and finishing second in the Kilmore and Maryborough Cups, steadily made up ground during the race from its second row draw to finish just 1.5m from the second-placed Wideford Hill NZ. 

There are not many black horses in harness racing that make it through to Grand Circuit races, with bay the overwhelming dominant colour in Australasia with a few browns.  But in Tribute NZ, this black, though not in the class of Blacks A Fake, is another capable of handling itself well as it steps up to tougher company in coming weeks. 

Connections of Peter Tonkin were understandably extremely disappointed in not having a chance to be in the finish.  Robin Hood was a dominate horse last season, when winning the Kilmore, Cranbourne and Ballarat Cups with impressive staying performances.

It was then injured in the A.G. Hunter, missing the Tasmanian Inter Dominion Series when sent for a 10-month spell away from racing.  It made the trip to Hobart with trainer Peter Tonkin well aware the run would do his horse a great deal of good just maybe have it at its best for the Victoria Cup.   

The tough stayer was vetted after Sunday night’s interference, but it appears not to have suffered any serious concerns other than missing on a run the six-year-old badly needed. 

The Barry Dunn-trained Dee Des Dream had two recent starts in Tasmania for two wins there for local driver Rohan Hadley.  It had its share of supporters, but never gave its backers much hope, beating only Robin Hood home. 

Foxfighter is Tasmania’s only locally-trained Inter Dominion hopeful, but will need to do much better than its ordinary 9th behind Tribute NZ.  

Robin Hood was sent the Tote favourite at $2.40, with Wideford Hill NZ at the nice odds of $17.40, and Strauss NZ with its supporters remaining at around $8.10 through-out betting.  

The $325,000 Victoria Cup will be this Saturday night at Moonee Valley with a strong field providing officials with the nice problem of what smart performers to leave out of the excellent nominations. 



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

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