Later this year, North American harness racing fans will be watching the latest Australasian wonder doing his thing on our raceways as Christen Me is heading over from New Zealand, seeking to regaining his peak form which allowed him to win $2.4 million (NZ) and eleven Group 1 stakes back home.
His owners, who plan on selling the eight year old son of Christian Cullen for racing purposes with an eye on his return to New Zealand when he retires from racing, feel Salix will be the key to reviving his career as he suffers from EIPH and the drug is not permitted where he races. Based on the results of some other horses which have been imported for similar reasons, there are reasons to be optimistic.
Thankfully, this is not being hyped as much as Auckland Reactor's arrival on our shores as that experience can be best described as an unmitigated disaster. Of course, the Australian pacer was sent over in the prime of his racing career and for whatever reason, he couldn't acclimate to North American racing even after surgery (my suspicion it was partially due to them not allowing enough time to acclimate). So while, Christen Me will be watched to see if he returns to his stellar form, he will not be looked at as the wonder horse, easing the stakes on his trainer and owners-to-be.
As previously said, he does have some pedigree. The winner of 32 out of 68 starts, his domestic record of 1:51.5 for 1,609 meters was set at Ashburton as a five year old while his overall record of 1:49.1 (MR) was set in Australia back in 2014.
Here is victory in the Auckland Reactor at Ashburton where Christen Me set a then New Zealand record for the mobile start.
Here is Christen Me's 1:49.1 victory in the 2014 Miracle Mile against Beautide, himself a winner of $2.1 AUS) and 49 wins out of 81 starts and a lifetime mark of 1;50.2.
I for one will be waiting to see how Christen Me does in North America. It can be an exciting ride.
In France, Timoko has broken Varenne's stake record of 1:52 in the Criterium de VItesse with a 1:51.4 victory in the race at Cagnes sur Mer. This is the ten year old's fourth Criterium victory and third in a row.
Post Script: I have wondered why we can't have standings starts in the United States? While the vault starts in France seem to be orderly, if standing starts are like this one where Christen Me was victorious, I know why a standing start wouldn't work in North America, it is like waiting for post time to actually happen. For the record, Christian Me was the victor in a mile rate of 1:58.5 for the 2,600 meter route.