Open class racing gets a boost

By Michael Guerin

The often sedate nature of early season open class pacing races has provided Addington with an unexpected boost this week.

  Because Miracle Mile winner Spankem and his high-class stablemates Ultimate Sniper and Chase Auckland will resume at their Friday night meeting, a week earlier than expected.

 All three Purdon-Rasmussen group one stars were originally expected to start their New Zealand Cup campaigns in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday week.

 But Purdon decided with the first open class pace of the season two weeks ago run at a farcical speed, an earlier start to their preparations wouldn’t hurt the trio.

 “We could have taken them back to the trials but often these early season open class races can be a bit slower than usual and raced in single file,” explains Purdon.

 ‘“I am not saying that will be the case this week but I think a race will be more useful than a trial which might have only been our three anyway.

 “And if they only run a big half (last 800m) on Friday then it is similar to a trial.”

 A look at the first open class pace of the season, the Maurice Holmes Vase on August 30, suggests Friday’s comeback shouldn’t be too brutal on the big guns.

 While there were only two head margins between Classie Brigade, A G’s White Socks and Hail Christian that night, the overall time of 3:21.4 for the 2600m standing start was 12.7 seconds outside the national record, with the leaders flying their last 800m in 54.3 seconds and the 400m in 26.7.

 The final sectional is exactly the same one Spankem paced winning a trial at Ashburton last week, suggesting field position might decide Friday’s Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup.

 But regardless of who wins on Friday having some of the All Stars pacing heroes back creates a lot more interest in the meeting and makes it feel like the open class season is actually starting.

 “It will be good to have them back and all going well they will probably still go to Oamaru for the Hannon, then races like the Canterbury Classic (October 4) and the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on October 28.”

 New Zealand Cup defending champion Thefixer won’t be back on Friday though as he has had a very slight setback and will instead trial at Rangiora today. And Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up is still definitely not racing until next year.

 Also returning on Friday night but away from the elite trotters is Oscar Bonavena, who is expected to be one of the big movers in that gait this season.

 He has thrilled Purdon in both his work and a trial last week and while he is the $4.80 second favourite for the Dominion during Cup week in Christchurch he comes back off only a 20m handicap in a moderate rating56 race on Friday.

 “He is trotting beautifully and we have no concerns about him stepping into open class later in the spring,” said Purdon.

 Friday’s main trot will see Sundees Son start a hot favourite back to mobile conditions in the Ordeal Trotting Cup after he bolted in from a 25m handicap against similar opposition last Friday.

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