YEAR: 2007


A break by the hot favourite Stig and a monster upset in record time by Romper Stomper in the $75,000 First Sovereign Trust NZ Trotting Free-For-All on Show Day has put a puzzle on the face of the Dominion Handicap this week.

Stig will still be favourite, but Our Sunny Whiz, who did not run on Show Day and Houdini Star and Mountbatten who did, are right in the mix in a race that is now wide open. It may not suit Romper Stomper, in spite of his obvious ability at the top level and his dashing late passing lane run to catch Houdini Star and Mountbatten. Romper Stomper had done his case no good by galloping on the grass at Motukarara and doing the same on Cup Day, but there was good form just behind that when he rattled home for third in the Canterbury Park Cup behind Whatsundermykilt.

Trainer Robbie Holmes did not rate him out of it. He made a couple of gear changes and thought the mobile would be the key to it. He settled him three-deep, behind Mountbatten and the early leader Rhythm Of The Night, and kept making ground on Mountbatten after Braig had retired from a bitter war between the 700m and 400m. "I saw Ants (Anthony Butt and Mountbatten) tiring and my horse just kept digging," he said.

For Holmes, this was his first Group 1 training success. The 8-year-old by Armbro Invasion is raced by Phil Sherley, a Hamilton insurance agent, and John Dickie, who trained the horse and won a heat of the Inter-Dominions last year, and then decided that his best chance with the horse was putting him on the beach. "It's been a real challenge," said Holmes,"but I love training trotters, and I've got half-a-dozen in work and they're all either racing or not far off it."

Hougini Star was a neck off winning and a short head in front of Mountbatten, and there was a gap to Petite Sunset who doesn't need much improvement to join the elite group.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly 21Nov07

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