Big guns facing dreadful draws
By Michael Guerin
Two of the biggest names in New Zealand harness racing face dreadful draws in the open class races at Addington tonight and that should be enough to steer punters toward their rivals.
Because while both Thefixer (Superstars) and Speeding Spur (free-for-all trot) have by far the best career records in their respective races, their trainers are both wary.
Speeding Spur returns after two months away, his last outing being a below par performance in the Great Southern Star in Victoria when he was found to have had lung issues.
He ran last of four in a workout at Pukekohe last Saturday but that is not what worries co-trainer John Dickie going into tonight’s main trot.
“He actually trialled well, he trotted his last 800m in 56.5 seconds and his 400m in under 27 seconds,” says Dickie.
“So we are happy with him but he is fresh up and has drawn the outside of the front line so more than likely he will be driven for luck.
“If he gets the right cart into it he can still win but he will improve a lot because he has three group ones coming up next month.” While he has won fresh up before employing sit-sprint tactics Speeding Spur faces a huge test doing that over 1980m tonight, especially if fit, fast rivals like Ronald J or Valloria can lead.
The same applies to Thefixer in the Superstars for four and five-year-old pacers but he has a couple of advantages over Speeding Spur’s situation.
Not only has Thefixer raced consistently well at the highest level in the last two months, finishing second in the Miracle Mile, but he won a trial last week and comes in one spot to barrier eight after the scratching of Sherrif.
He meets a very even field full of rock hard fit horses with plenty of gate speed, which suggest he too could be going back at the start before working his way into the race.
He might simply have too much clash for his opponents but it looks a tricky race and trainer Mark Purdon admits the New Zealand Cup winner won’t be at his peak.
“He has done really well since coming home from Sydney and there will be some improvement in him,” said Purdon.
If he can get around mid race during an easy sectional then Thefixer might be good enough to sit parked and win but he might need to be clearly the best horse in the race and then some because a sub-1:54 mile rate wouldn’t surprise and that is hard for any horse three wide if they are not totally screwed down.
Horses well capable of taking advantage of that include his own stablemate Eamon Maguire, A G’s White Socks, the Robert Dunn-trained pair of Henry Hubert and Alta Maestro and Jack’s Legend, who has returned to the form that saw him finish second to Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup last season.
If he could use his gate speed to blast across and lead then Jack’s Legend becomes the one to beat but after sitting parked last start he might be developing another string to his bow.
Earlier in the night the men behind Thefixer and Speeding Spur meet again in the Sires’ Stakes Trot Prelude but this time the result looks far more clear cut, with Enhance Your Calm (Purdon) expected to lead and win, giving Tricky Ric (Dickie) a great chance to trail and provide the quinella.
“He is in a good place,” says Purdon of Enhance Your Calm.