Monbet not 100% but still too good

Ben Hope, son of Monbet’s co-trainers, Greg and Nina Hope, pats the champion after his win in the...
Ben Hope, son of Monbet’s co-trainers, Greg and Nina Hope, pats the champion after his win in the Dominion Trot at Addington yesterday. Photo: Matt Smith.
Bad news, trotting trainers: Monbet is not 100% and he was still good enough to win the $260,000 Dominion Trot.

The reigning horse of the year saw off the late challenge from stablemate Quite A Moment in yesterday’s group 1 trot at Addington, but driver Ricky May is convinced the squaregaiter is not quite at his peak.

"He’s just a sensational horse," May said minutes after the race.

"I’d hate to see what he’s like when he’s 100% because I’m sure he’s not quite that at the moment.

"He’s just down a notch. It wasn’t the run on Tuesday that knocked him — he’s just not 100% somewhere."

That intangible shortcoming — wherever it might be in Monbet’s frame — means his trainers, Greg and Nina Hope, will give him a well-earned spell in the paddock.

"We’ll give him a bit of a break now," Greg Hope said.

"He’s done an amazing job and he can have probably a month out."

"We’d love to have a go at the Great Southern Star [at Melton in March] but we’re not a hurry to get back over there. It was pretty gruelling for him last time over there and off handicaps and that."

For the Hopes, Monbet’s victory completes the "set" of open-class group 1 trotting wins in New Zealand.

"It’s just really the fact that it was the one he hadn’t got," Hope said.

"We chose not to go in it last year, so we definitely felt the pressure of it — there’s no getting away from that — it was the one I badly wanted.

"If I had missed out, at least I’ve got two or three more years to have a crack with him, but it’s lovely to have it out of the way and know that he’s done it."

Monbet was one half of a short-priced group 1 double, as Lazarus once again hauled himself off the canvas to win the pacing free-for-all in New Zealand record time in the hands of co-trainer Mark Purdon.

Dexter Dunn sent Christen Me to the lead and ran the nine-horse field along at a brisk tempo, forcing Purdon to ask Lazarus for the extra effort as the field came into the straight.

"Tiger Tara was dropping off and I didn’t know whether to slot in there for a bit but he [Tiger Tara] ended up kicking back up," Purdon said.

Purdon has never been one to reach for a superlative, but that changed when asked how highly he rates the 4yr-old.

"Right at the moment, he just feels invincible."

Lazarus’ winning time of 2.16.3 was 0.2sec inside the national allcomers time set by Ultimate Machete on Tuesday, giving the son of Bettor’s Delight two national records in three days.

"I think the cup run and the time blew me away. When I heard that, I thought ‘hell, this is a good horse’."

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