We’re at the halfway mark of the 2021 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters.
So, it’s time for moves to be made.
Time for separation.
Who’s a contender and who’s a pretender.
And the key players appear to be reigning champion Sundees Son plus Majestic Man ahead of Friday night’s Gr.1 $150,000 What The Hill Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland.
A trio of Trotting Masters features have been staged this year; Tornado Valley took the opening leg with his dynamic display in the Great Southern Star while Majestic Man proved triumphant in the Grand Prix before Sundees Son took last week’s ANZAC Cup.
The quest to be crowned the Trotting Master is alive with Majestic Man (160 points) leading both Tornado Valley (103) and Sundees Son (100) while Bolt For Brilliance (60) sits within reach with three features remaining this year.
Obviously, the Rowe Cup result is crucial.
In golfing terms, this race could best be described as the ‘moving’ race.
A field of 11 will face the starter when they line-up behind the tapes for the 3200m feature, the Rowe Cup is biggest trotting event staged in the North Island and was first staged back in 1918 when Whisht proved successful.
With only 11 starters this year, it’s the smallest field since Monbet scored back in 2016.
Last week in the ANZAC Cup, standout performer Sundees Son recorded back-to-back victories and he’s chasing the same result in the Rowe Cup after scoring back in 2019.
Champion trotter I Can Doosit was the last horse to record back-to-back victories (2011/12).
Sundees Son was stunning when successful back in 2019 and his winning effort last week was another timely reminder of his brilliance when he easily dispatched his six rivals in the 2200m mobile start feature.
The Robert and John Dunn prepared Majestic Son gelding defeated Bolt For Brilliance, Oscar Bonavena and Majestic Man.
He faces the same six rivals with the addition of Credit Master, Anditover, Call Me Trouble and Kay Cee joining the party this week.
Victory for either Sundees Son, Majestic Man or Bolt For Brilliance could easily catapult them to glory in the Trotting Masters.
Interestingly, from the 2019 Rowe Cup, only three trotters take their place this year including defending champion Sundees Son plus Majestic Man (3rd) and Temporale (14th).
Veteran performer Temporale lines up again and is chasing his second Rowe Cup triumph after scoring back in 2017, star mare One Over Kenny (2007 & 2009) was the last trotter to win the Rowe Cup twice without going back-to-back.
Champion horseman Tony Herlihy boasts the most success in the Rowe Cup of the 11 drivers competing this year with victories including Temporale (2017), One Over Kenny (2007 & 2009), Diamond Field (1994) and Gee Du Jour (1991).
Herlihy will partner Bolt For Brilliance this year.
Other Rowe Cup winners includes Mark Purdon (I Can Doosit, 2011/12), Josh Dickie (Speeding Spur, 2018) and Robert and John Dunn (Sundees Son, 2019).
No mares are starting in the Rowe Cup this year.
The Rowe Cup was not held last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and with plenty of restrictions still in place, no Australians have made the trek across the ditch.
Three Australian trained trotters have previously scored including Wagon Apollo (1996), La Coocaracha (2002) and most recently Sundons Gift (2010).
The Rowe Cup is race 7 on the program and listed to start at 8.19pm local time.
Following the Rowe Cup, only the Dominion at Addington in November and Inter Dominion in Sydney the following month remain for the 2021 season.