We have syndicates, fights, personnel changes, knife throwing, Benny Hill, Monkey's and suspensions. It is not an episode of your favourite reality show, it is harness racing in New Zealand.
Last week in a FFA race in NZ, champion pacer Auckland Reactor was sent to the lead, driven by Mark Purdon. He was "attacked" by a longshot, Awesome Armbro driven by Phil Butcher, and pushed through stout fractions. Off third over cover came "the Monkey" - Monkey King - and he sailed to victory. Most times that would be the end of it, but not this time. Here is the race video (note: anytime I hear "Here is the Monkey" in a race call, I think it is a damn cool race call):
After the race, it was reported that an Auckland Reactor owner had a dust up with Phil Butcher, driver of the presser. No word if it was just yelling, or if fisticuffs ensued. It also appears the stewards are looking into the drive saying he did "not give his horse the best chance to win." Watching the video I do not think you have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that out.
Then it was announced that there would be a driver change for the Reactor's next race. Mark Purdon would be replaced with Tony Herlihy for the $500k Miracle Mile this Sunday in Australia. Syndicate spokesman: "He's the best in the world, and it takes a bit of pressure off Mark," he said. "We spoke to Tony a few days ago, it was Mark's idea to put Tony on."
That's not all. Of course not.
It was then reported that during the race itself, someone threw a "bread and butter knife" at the runners when they were 100 metres from home. This might have been done as a protest to one of the controversial trainers in the race. "I've spoken to the person who reported the incident and he is in no doubt it was a knife. He said a security guard retrieved it from the track." said a steward.
The Miracle Mile goes this weekend, featuring the rematch, and we will have the video up here on the blog when we get it. Let's hope for no knife throwing - bread and butter or not.