Different paths for two harness racing millionaires

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

A changing of the guard is happening with Shannon Armour's two millionaire pacers, Thefixer and Spankem.

Now retired from racing, both are based at her place just outside Invercargill. Over the past two years Thefixer aka Tosti has been a regular in the show ring as well as race clerking around Southland while Spankem has shown a lot of potential as a sport horse since she acquired him in January this year.

And that has prompted Armour to change things up.

"Clerking and competing at the same time takes its toll so Tosti's showing is on hold at the moment," says Armour.

At the same time Spankem's transition is going full steam ahead.

"He is destined for the Show ring and is a lot prettier than Tosti."

Added to the mix is the fact that Armour's eight-year old daughter Brooklyn has started competing too.

"She's started riding during the A & P season and she has got to be my focus," says Armour.

With Armour also working for a finance firm, and training two race horses (Nyla and Action Packed) something had to give.

Tosti's clerking will continue - "we do every Invercargill and Winton meeting."

"By the end of June we would have done 37 meetings for the year - it's a lot."

He also competed in nine shows this season, mainly in Otago and Southland and as far north as Waimate.

"Every time this season he was the champion ridden standardbred and this year we also went in against the allbreeds and he was always first or second - either Champion Novice hack or Reserve Champion hack."

"It was a big achievement."

"How far he's come is amazing."

On the track Thefixer (Bettor's Delight - Tosti Girl) won 12 races and just over a million dollars, with his greatest victory being the 2018 New Zealand Cup.

Not ideally suited to the 3200m trip, Spankem (Bettor's Delight - Crushem) never won the biggest race of them all, with two seconds and a third in three attempts.

But he was still hugely successful with seven Group 1 victories including a win in the 2019 Miracle Mile in Sydney in 1:47.7 (beating Thefixer) and nearly $2m in stakes.

He was retired after suffering a leg injury during the Invercargill Cup in December 2022. 

"He came here to find a home and I fell in love with him so he hasn't left," says Armour, "for Tosti and Spankem this is their forever home." .

Initially she thought Spankem would be a clerking horse too but now thinks he's much more suited to the show ring.

"We've just been to the one show and he was so workmanlike, and he was so proud to be there."

At Invercargill in March he was awarded Reserve Champion Inhand and Champion Ridden.

The leg injury (split cannon bone) that ultimately curtailed his racing career has completely healed.

"He still has a fat leg," says Armour, "but when he's moving you can't notice anything."

And so it's turned out that just as one champion is being phased out of the show ring another is just getting started.

"With the good race horses they have a great work ethic," says Armour, "and when they get in the ring they just want to please."


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