Too big, too strong. Great Things Happen is well clear at the finish of the NZ Trotting FFA. Photo: Race Images.
Emerging open class trot star Great Things Happen equaled Monbet’s NZ record in the Gr. 1 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington today, only whetting Gavin Smith’s appetite to eventually take on NZ’s No. 1 of last term.
Smith, the Rangiora trainer-driver of Great Things Happen, scored his first Gr.1 training win, and loves being competitive.
“I’d love to be racing Monbet and Habibti Ivy, and going head to head with Monbet. Hopefully, one day we will,” Smith said.
But that won’t eventuate for some time as Monbet recuperates from injury.
In Monbet’s absence, Smith has the favourite for Friday’s Gr. 1 Haras Des Trotteurs Dominion at Addington and says backing up won’t worry the big Love You gelding, despite a blood scare pre-the NZ Cup meeting.
“All the bloods on my three were out a little, which is not what you want going into a NZ Cup meeting,” Smith said.
“I treated Great Things Happen pretty aggressively and I think we got on top of it before it came to anything.”
Smith says Great Things Happen is a big boy now and he’s confident he’ll cope with the strong race week.
The horse grew, in comparison to human terms, from a boy into a man when sent to Victoria to campaign last term.
And reverting back to a stand start after Tuesday’s mobile is of no concern either.
“It’s pretty exciting at the moment. I just hope nothing goes wrong,” he said.
“He’s such a great stayer that the 3200m will really suit him.”
On Tuesday, Great Things Happen Smith had room to switch Great Things Happen off the markers from one on the second row when Marcoola, who drew the ace, moved out to attack for the lead after the opening 300m.
He was happy sitting parked with the confidence his horse would outstay his rivals.
To that end, he put the pressure on Monbet at the 400m, striding clear, instead of being caught out on a fast final quarter, and the rest was history.
Great Things Happen was clear for much of the run home, with Smith only releasing the earplugs inside the final 80m.
He won untouched by three lengths in 2:21.7 for the 1950m, a mile rate of 1:56.9, with the last 800m in 57.9s and 400m in 29.1s.
This was his 13th win in 29 starts, taking his earnings to $186,117 for co-breeder Ted Edwards, and Sara Smith, wife of the trainer.
Post NZ Cup week, the big six-year-old will be in search of further riches.
He’ll head north for the Auckland features next month, then take in the Great Southern Star in Victoria on January 27, before freshening for the Rowe Cup back at Auckland on April 27.
Everybody Knows ran on late to grab second, with Doctor Bones, who tracked the winner to the turn, boxing on hold third.
Southland mare Dark Horse ran on late out wide for fourth.