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


YEAR: 1994

David Moss winning the Dominion from Call Me Now

Someone as far away as Norway was tuning in to David Moss' delightful winning performance in the $100,000 DB Draught Superquad Dominion Handicap.

Part owner Captain Oddvar Andersen of Oslo managed to make the trip last year to watch his champion square-gaiter win the two mile feature but this time settled for the second best option. "Captain was ringing my brother Alistair in Auckland tonight to listen to the commentary," said John Cox whose late father Harry shared in the ownership of David Moss with Captain Andersen.

David Moss posted a NZ record when trotting the 3200m in 4:06.6 - 0.8 of a second inside Idle Scott's time achieved in 1992. He came with a big stayers finish in the straight to get past a gallant pace-making Call Me Now who fought all the way to the line. Breton Abbe was not far away in third placing after enjoying the trail. Diamond Field lost his chance at the start when breaking for Tony Herlihy.

Cox did the initial training of David Moss before handing the 11-year-old on to Bob Cameron at the end of October. The veteran of the field along with Game Paul (fourth), David Moss has an abundance of determination and sheer guts. He is unreal," said Cox. "He is all heart - it's the mark of a true champion. This was better than last year's effort." Captain Andersen and Cox discussed David Moss' future earlier this year. "We decided that everything from this season onwards is a bonus," said Cox. "Captain said that if he ever started to struggle we would retire him so he could finish on top."

The preparation of David Moss this time in has been a difficult task with the 'hamstring' muscle on his hind leg taking more time than expected to heal. It was an injury that forced him out of the Rowe Cup in May. "He would have gone up to Bob's stable earlier if he had been more forward," said Cox. "He had a few problems early on and it has been a bit of a worry. Bob has done a beautiful job with him and topped him off well."

Cameron drove David Moss in his second start this campaign at Gore on October 27. "He didn't feel 100% when I drove him at Gore," said Cameron who guided him to victory in last year's Dominion Handicap. "We have since made a few alterations to his shoeing to get him more balanced."

Maurice McKendry was the successful driver behind David Moss and enjoyed his first win in the race after some close placings in previous years.

David Moss became the first horse to win back to back Dominion Handicaps since Durban Chief did so in 1957-8. The Gekoj gelding will be prepared for a tilt at the Inter-Dominions at Addngton in March. "I was talking to Bob before the race and he is likely to stay with him now through to the Inter-Dominions," said Cox. David Moss has now won 27 races including two Dominion Handicaps and a Rowe Cup taking his earnings to $433,485. He was beaten a neck by Night Allowance in the Inter-Dominion Grand Final at Alexandra Park in 1993.

Credit: Philip O'Connor writing in HRNZ Weekly


YEAR: 2008


If Stig lost any mana having an off-day at Kaikoura, it was forgotten and forgiven as he won it back with a handsome win in the $100,000 First Sovereign Trust NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington on Friday. Idid It Myway came with his customary strong, late run for second, heading off Roydon Flash and Awesome Imace.

The effort suggested that Stig is near enough to a good thing in the $300,000 Heller Tasty Dominion Handicap. He was unforgiving when he resumed after a long break to win a stand over 3200m at Addington; he was brilliant winning next over a mile at Ashburton, and then the real Stig stood down from what he normally does at Kaikoura, a track that can be tricky for some.

Trainer Paul Nairn said he probably didn't like the track there being "shifty", but perhaps more telling was that he was "annoyed" the day before by his stablemate Day Of Reckoning who was in season. In any event, he was a box of birds getting back home, and if Nairn wasn't "overly confident" on Show Day, he has a right to be now.

Safely through this week's mission, Stig will have a small operation to remove a stitch that has caused a wee weeping bump above the offside hind foreleg after he broke a sesamoid a year ago. "For some reason the stitch hasn't dissolved," said Nairn, "we will get it out soon."

Stig, of course, still has some way to go to match and better the feats of Call Me Now, Above The Stars and some of the other top trotters Nairn has trained, but it shouldn't be long before he is there and gone past. "This horse is still getting there," said Nairn. "Call Me Now ran 4.05 and still holds the New Zealand record for 2000 metres." Beyond this meeting, Nairn is taking his time. "I'm happy to leave the page open after this. He will most likely spell, have a month or so off, and then get ready for the Rowe Cup."

Stig is raced by Tim and Andrea Butt, Ross Thomas, of Christchurch, and Jim Boyd, of Hamilton, whose musical talents in the birdcage did not reach the same high notes that Stig did on the track. Butt originally tried to syndicate Stig as a yearling with 12 shares at $5000 each, but when only two were taken up, they were left with 10.

Springbank Richard was eight lengths from Stig, and driver Nathan Williamson said he'd be driving him differently in the Dominion, hoping he will settle better. "We knew it would take him a few starts to find his feet in this grade. I would like to drive him cold, and see what he can do with one run at them."

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 19Nov08

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