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Inter Dominion - night two pacing wrap

By Adam Hamilton

NEW Zealander raiders won two of the three Inter Dominion pacing heats on night two at Ballarat, but it was a third placegetter who set most tongues wagging.

The All Stars’ four-year-old Spankem followed his surprise and impressive opening round win with a clock-smashing third in a strong heat at Ballarat last night.

In an on-pace dominated heat, Spankem came from well back and out deep and was privately clocked in closing splits of 52.9 and 25.7sec when beaten just 2.4m behind Wrappers Delight with Tiger Tara second.

His run, times he went and the post-race comments of co-trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen were amazing.

“He’s still a bit fat. I jogged him this morning, you know,” Rasmussen said post-race. “It wasn’t a hard run for him tonight, he’s come through it well. He hit the line really well.”

The Aussie TAB reacted by slashing Spankem’s Grand Final odds from $7 into $4 – remembering he was $21 before the first heat was run.

Just two races later, stablemate Cruz Bromac made it two wins from as many heats when, courtesy of a superb Rasmussen driven, he outclassed his rivals to win easily.

“He did that easily. Look at him, he’s not blowing at all,” Rasmussen said, pointing to the former Aussie pacer after the win.

Cruz Bromac shares favourite for the final with Spankem at $4, then it’s out to Tiger Tara and San Carlo at $6. Wrappers Delight and Im Pats Delight at $8.

Asked again her preference for a final drive now both are certain to be in it, Rasmussen said: “I can’t split them. I guess I’m closer to Cruz (Bromac) because I’ve driven him four times for four wins now, but the other little horse (Spankem) is thriving over here.

“I can’t split them. I’ll wait until we get through the last round of heats.”

Rasmussen confirmed partner, Mark Purdon, was booked on a flight to drive whichever stable runner she didn’t choose for the final.

Rasmussen and Purdon and superbly placed for an Inter Dominion three-peat following the wins of Smolda (2016) and Lazarus (last year) in Perth.

It is another Kiwi, Cran Dalgety’s Im Pats Delight, who looms as one of the main dangers to the All Stars’ pair in the final.

Im Pats Delight turned heads with a terrific second on night one to Spankem, then drew well, led and cruised home in easily the fastest of last night’s three heats. The 1710m mile rate was 1min52.2sec.

“Gavin (Lang, driver) didn’t pull the plugs, so he did it pretty easily,” Dalgety said. “So far, so good. He’s enjoying it over here.”

Lang let his mind wander to filling perhaps the only major gap in his amazing CV, winning an Inter Dominion pacing final.

“Yes, I am yet to win one,” he said. “I’m a bit like Frankie Dettori when he comes out for the Melbourne Cup. Every year they talk about how tries he had without winning it.

“I’ve only really had one big chance and that was with Auckland Reactor (2009, Gold Coast), but he took charge of me and that was the end of that.

“This horse (Im Pats Delight) is doing everything well. He’s run really well in both heats and won easily tonight.”

Outside of the Kiwis, Wrappers Delight lifted from a luckless fifth on opening night to lead throughout in a 1min53.6sec mile rate, including a 26.1sec closing quarter.

Tiger Tara worked around the field early from the back row to sit parked in that heat and, after battling to handle the final bend, lifted late for a fantastic and close-up second.

Local star San Carlo meekly surrendered the lead to Tiger Tara early then had a few traffic issues and worked home OK for fifth, while rejuvenated claimer Maximan made the most of the sit behind Wrappers Delight and ran fourth.

Cruz Bromac stayed out of an early speed burn in his heat then Rasmussen summed-up the race superbly to whiz around and sit parked.

The leader, Audi Hare, held-on for second, while opening night winner Galactic Star did plenty of early work, took the sit on Cruz Bromac then ran on again late for third.