Monkey King aiming for more group success
Reinsmen Ricky May and Anthony Butt are both attempting to win the Ashburton Flying Stakes for the fifth time today.
May drives battle-harden warrior Monkey King in the $60,000 group three event and Butt teams up with Choise Achiever, trained by his brother Tim.
The Mid Canterbury standing start feature is an important stepping-stone for horses preparing for the $600,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 8. Monkey King has won the last two Cups.
Kaiapoi trainer Brendon Hill said yesterday he was pleased with the progress Monkey King and Power Of Tara were making towards Cup Day.
''I'm happy, no complaints.''
Monkey King's three starts this season have resulted in him winning the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on September 18, finishing fifth in the Avon City Cup at Addington on September 30 and 13th in Terror To Love's Canterbury Classic at the Christchurch track 10 days ago.
His Avon City Cup peformance was remarkable because he and driver May were not ready for the start when the race began. Monkey King galloped away and lost 40 or 50m.
In the Canterbury Classic, Monkey King was at the rear when the leaders sprinted the last 400m in a brisk 26.6sec. His record in the Ashburton Flying Stakes stands at three starts for a third (2008), a sixth (last year) and an 11th (2007).
Anthony Butt's drive, Choise Achiever, ran a creditable seventh in the Canterbury Classic after racing without cover for the first lap. It was his first race for five months and he fought to the line, five and three-quarter lengths from winner Terror To Love. Choise Acheiver displayed his competitiveness in the open class ranks when third to Themightyquinn and Washakie in an Interdominion Heat at Alexandra Park in March.
The powerful Mark Purdon-Grant Payne training combination will harness three runners for the Flying Stakes _ Auckland Reactor, Highview Tommy and Vi Et Animo.
Purdon was slightly disappointed with Auckland Reactor's finishing sprint for sixth in the Canterbury Classic and wants to see improvement today.
''He seems fine and hopefully, he'll go better,'' Purdon said yesterday.
The horseman was encouraged by Highview Tommy's third in the Classic.
''He generally steps away good and if he does that again, I'd like to think he'd be in the first four (today).''
Methven Cup winner Vi Et Animo has been training to Purdon's satisfaction.
- The Southland Times