YEAR: 1995


Helen Pope receives the trophy fron Bob Stewart

Call Me Now confirmed his top seeding among the square-gaiters by winning the $100,000 DB Draught Dominion Handicap but this result may well have been different according to Eastburn Grant's driver Ken Barron.

"Eastburn Grant knocked his leg and missed a lot of work and had just one fast workout in the eight days following Show day," said Barron. "Up until Thursday morning we didn't know if he would start or not and he only did because it was the Dominion Handicap. Even going the time they did - if he was fully fit they would not have run him down."

The race was an exciting spectacle and many of the beaten runners were left gasping as Barron and Eastburn Grant set up a national record breaking pace. "After the start I saw Pride Of Petite begin well and I was rapt as I thought we could get the trail for the race," said Barron. "But she galloped soon after and we were left in front; I was not confident to lead all the way and win."

Call Me Now, driven by David Butt and Diamond Field made good starts from the 10 metre mark and secured prominent positions early. Chiola Cola trailed Eastburn Grant and this quartet - in the first four from the 2000m - dominated the finish. Little happened in the middle stages of the race as Chiola Cola, Call Me Now and Diamond Field were just trying to keep tabs on a flying Eastburn Grant. In the latter stages Diamond Field started to feel the pinch and it was left to Chiola Cola and Call Me Now to put the acid on Eastburn Grant. Under desperate urgings from Butt, Call Me Now dug deep in the straight and just managed to get up and beat Eastburn Grant by a short neck. Chiola Cola and Shane Hayes were trying to make their challenge between the pair with little room to do so. They were only a neck back in third place and one and a half lengths in front of Diamond Field. "I thought he may have been a little unlucky - the gap did open in the straight but too late," said Hayes. "I'm not saying he could have beaten Call Me Now or Eastburn Grant as they are two great trotters but I'm sure he would have finished even closer.

Call Me Now trotted the 3200m in 4:05.7 - 0.9 of a second inside David Moss's NZ Record produced in this race last year. "It has been great to win this race and an Inter-Dominion Final," said trainer Paul Nairn. Nairn (34) knew he had Call Me Now at his peak for the Group 1 feature. "I thought there was a little improvement in him after Cup Week," he said. "He has had a quiet time since his win on Show day and we have concentrated mainly on road work - it seem to suit him."

Call Me Now is in the prime of his career and an exciting opportunity to race in Europe in May is not out of the question. Before this Call Me Now is likely to travel north and contest feature races at Alexandra Park at Christmas time. Whether he defends hie Inter-Dominion crown at Moonee Valley in February depends on the handicap he will receive during the series. This year's seriesin New Zealand used the mobile start. "If he got 10m or 15m it would probably be alright but 20m to 30m is handicapping him out of it and would be too tough around a track like Mooney Valley," said Butt.

Raced by Paul with his father Graeme, Helen Pope and Gwynn Thomson, Call Me Now has recorded 21 wins and 12 placings for $365,770 in stakes.

Credit: Philip O'Connor writing in HRNZ Weekly

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