13 Nov 2018

Race-fixing charges not expected to impact NZ Trotting Cup

7:14 am on 13 November 2018

It's the biggest day of the year for harness racing today with the New Zealand Trotting Cup happening at Addington Raceway in Christchurch.

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Winner of the New Zealand Trotting Cup in 2017, Lazarus with trainer/driver Mark Purdon at Addington Raceway in Christchurch. Photo: Photosport

The sport has been rocked in recent months by allegations of race-fixing involving some of its biggest names.

Most have been granted name suppression and are planning to defend themselves when the case comes to court next year.

Those involved in making sure today's carnival goes off without a hitch, are confident the allegations will not prove to be a dampener.

Addington Raceway head Peter Jensen said they had not had any impact on ticket pre-sales for this year's big race, with 20,000 expected through the turnstiles today.

"I guess a lot of people that are coming along, they won't be aware of those situations because they don't have a deep enough interest in the sport.

"But I think also people understand that there are integrity issues from time to time in any sport where money is involved. We've seen that in cricket for example recently and I think that people understand when those things happen."

As with every race, members of the racing integrity unit, who helped the police with their recent investigation, would be on the course again today, he said.

"The important thing from our perspective is if there are any issues, and we don't know if there are or not, they haven't been proven as yet, but there are systems in place to find that."

The man taking the call for Tuesday's race, Mark McNamara, said more money was bet on the New Zealand Cup than any other race in the country, with a turnover of $6 million last year.

He said so far the race-fixing charges had not had a dramatic impact on the willingness of punters to bet on the trots and he did not expect things to be any different today.

"I expect turnover to be strong again there because the field is so even and the punters will come out in force, Christchurch will come out and party and put plenty of money on. So it [the allegations of race-fixing] doesn't seem to affect it, it might have in the first couple of days but since then it has picked right back up again."

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Robert Dunn Photo: Supplied

Robert Dunn, who runs the second most successful stable in the country, has an astonishing 17 horses competing today, five of them in the headline race just after 5pm.

This morning, he plans to take them for a trot along the beach to loosen their limbs before loading them all on trucks for the trip to Addington.

Like a lot of trainers, it's a family affair with two of his sons forging careers as drivers, including John Dunn who will today be racing Alta Orlando.

With so many horses to prepare and get to the start line, Robert Dunn does not think he will have time for any race day nerves.

"I've always found the best way to keep your nerves down is by keeping yourself busy, so I'll be doing that."

He said cup day was unlike any other on the racing calendar.

"You know you've got the big days in America ... but even the Americans that come over here say that New Zealand Cup Day, and in fact New Zealand Cup Week because of course you've got the gallops and the greyhounds, it's one of those weeks that a lot of people think is just the best week in the racing calendar, as good as going to the Melbourne Cup."

Robert Dunn said hot favourite Australian horse, Tiger Tara had drawn an unfavourable spot at the start, meaning the race was wide open.

The first race gets underway just after 12pm.

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