The 2012/13 Trotting Masters was dominated by the Kiwi’s.
Of the six leg tour, every winner had a direct link to New Zealand with the winners either trained or bred in the shaky isles.
Just the like the pacing side, the Trotting Masters underwent significant changes before the season got officially underway with a new slim line look.
And the season commenced with the running of the $NZ191,000 Hellers Dominion Handicap at Addington, Christchurch on November 16.
The 3200m stand start feature had it all, headlining the event were two world class trotters in I Can Doosit and the injury riddled veteran Stig plus several up and coming talents.
In an epic clash, the two favourites I Can Doosit and Stig staged a great battle with and clearly demonstrating their class and power during the gruelling event.
In the end, I Can Doosit won the battle but it signalled the war had just begun for the new season, The Mark Purdon trained and driven superstar defeated Stig by ¾ length while there was a further 5 ½ lengths back to The Fiery Ginga in third.
The time was 4;04 with the milerate being 2;02.6.
The second leg of the Trotting Masters was staged at TABCORP Park, Menangle in Sydney with the inaugural running of the $200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge.
A one mile mobile feature on the big open spaces in Sydney’s southwest made up of two teams, Australia versus New Zealand.
It was five against five, the two teams selected by administrators.
Kiwi star Stig started as the favourite but didn’t handle the track and made a crucial break which saw him lose all chance after racing outside of The Fiery Ginga.
Former New Zealand trotter Keystone Del used inside runs before easing to the outside soon after straightening before racing clear deep into the stretch.
The Nicole Molander trained and Blake Fitzpatrick driven 5yo downed Kiwi’s Sovereignty and Vulcan in a time of 1;56.3.
As the Trotting Masters series continued, the next leg was staged at TABCORP Park, Melton in Victoria with the running of the $125,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix.
Again, Stig was heavily fancied to claim the feature, this time being handled by master Australian reinsman Gavin Lang replacing regular pilot Davey Butt.
Aussie star I Didn’t Do It led the way while Stig was forced to race on the outside of the leader in a keenly contested event.
But it was the training genius of Kiwi horseman Tim Butt that was on display as his emerging big race star Vulcan sailed down the outside to grab victory over a game Stig while I Didn’t Do It weakened to third.
It was the start of a glorious form patch for Vulcan who struggled to win a race for well over twelve months.
Vulcan was handled perfectly by star Australian reinsman Greg Sugars.
The Vulcan show gathered strong momentum following his victories in the Knight Pistol and the Australian Trotting Grand Prix and the inaugural running of the $250,000 Great Southern Star was next his on his connections wish list.
Staged at TABCORP Park, Melton, the Great Southern Star was the new shining light of feature trotting events held in Australia.
A concept modelled on the famed Elitlopp held each and every year in Stockholm, with heats and final conducted on the same program.
Two heats were staged early in the night with Kiwi’s Stig and Vulcan staking their claim for the final which would be held a few hours later.
In the final, Sovereignty raced to the early lead while Stig made a break shortly after the start, Vulcan raced wide over the concluding before powering away from his rivals to score a commanding victory over Elegant Image and My High Expectations in a time of 1;56.5.
The victory provided New Zealand brothers Tim and Anthony Butt with another feature event in Victoria, their home away from home.
The $NZ96,700 ANZAC Cup was the next leg of the Trotting Masters, staged at Alexandra Park, Auckland.
The 2200m mobile feature featured all New Zealand trotters with Australian representatives not making the trip across the ditch, race favourite was the in-form Vulcan over Stig.
Vulcan was able to take the lead from Sovereignty soon after the start leaving up and coming trotter Stent buried three back on the pegs, Stig again made a break losing all chance.
Approaching the home turn, Flying Isa raced up and shot clear of Vulcan who was under immediate pressure before Stent charged through along the passing lane with a withering burst of speed to down Flying Isa and Vulcan.
The 4yo Dream Vacation gelding is trained in partnership by Colin and Julie DeFilippi and is raced by Trevor Casey.
The final leg of the 2012/13 Trotting Masters was the $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup staged at Alexandra Park, Auckland, a 3200m stand start feature.
Again, there were no Australian representatives.
Punters rallied behind the emerging types, Vulcan and Stent, who battled for favouritism while the ageing warrior Stig was kept safe on the third line of betting.
After a slow start, Stig worked forward and forced his way to the lead with a lap to run and defied running down holding Springbank Sam comfortably while Boizel finished third.
The time was 4;06.1 with the milerate covered in 2;03.7.
The 10yo gelding is prepared by Paul Nairn and was driven by Davey Butt.
The 2012/13 Trotting Masters champion is Vulcan who scored narrowly from Stig while I Can Doosit and Stent finished equal third.
Vulcan – 245 points
Stig – 225 points
I Can Doosit and Stent – 100 points
Congratulations to owner/breeders Jenny Butt and Don McKenzie, trainer Tim Butt and drivers Anthony Butt and Greg Sugars.