A big battle
By Michael Guerin
Miracle Mile hero Spankem is set to race on this season setting up a big-three battle for harness racing’s Horse of the Year honour.
And crucial votes in the contest could end up being won at Alexandra Park next month as Spankem clashes with elite stablemates Turn It Up and Chase Auckland.
After his surprise thrashing of his Miracle Mile opponents at Menangle 12 days ago Spankem was sent for a veterinary examination as is so often the case with the better All Stars-trained runners at the end of long campaigns.
Any sign of soreness or issues would have probably seen the four-year-old sent to the paddock but trainer Mark Purdon liked what the vets had to report and Spankem will be Auckland-bound next month.
“They checked him out and said he is in great condition so we will aim him at the Taylor Mile (April 26) and the Messenger (May 3) at Alexandra Park,” said Purdon.
That means all three of the Purdon-Rasmussen mega race winners from this season will race on as Thefixer (New Zealand Cup) and Turn It Up (Auckland Cup) are also going to have autumn campaigns.
Thefixer will contest the Superstars at Addington on March 29 and then the Easter Cup and victory in the latter would go a long way to making him harness racing’s Horse of the Year.
But that will probably round out his season and if either Spankem or Turn It Up could sweep the Alexandra Park double they would enormously boost their chances on making the title race interesting.
Turn It Up could yet contest the Easter Cup but is more likely to head to the Rangiora Classic on April 7 before Alexandra Park.
There he will go head to head with Spankem and Chase Auckland in the group one four-year-old races before more than likely contesting the Jewels at Addington on June 1.
“He hasn’t had the summer racing of some of the others or the travel to Australia,” explains Purdon of Turn It Up.
“So he will probably press on to the Jewels whereas the two big races at Auckland will probably do it for Spankem.”
Spankem versus Turn It Up with the remainder of a strong four-year-old crop led by Chase Auckland would really spice up the Taylor Mile-Messenger double and could go some way to resolving the question of who the best pacer in the country is.
The news Turn It Up is more than likely to race on until the Jewels will be welcomed by Addington officials as they prepare to host the massive day for the first time, with Auckland Cup-winning four-year-olds always a risk to miss the Jewels and be spelled to aim at the New Zealand Cup.