Spankem back after disappointing Aussie debut
By Adam Hamilton
It is take two for star Kiwi Spankem at Albion Park on Saturday night.
New trainer Darren Weeks felt he had no option but to run Spankem in a ho-hum 2138m free-for-all this week after the former Miracle Mile winner only managed about two steps in his debut run for the stable last Saturday night.
Spankem was wiped-out by stablemate Lilac Flash, who galloped from the stand and dislodged Spankem’s driver Kylie Rasmussen.
“He needs racing so we’ve thrown him in this week,” Weeks said. “The big races aren’t far away.
“We’re really happy with him, he’s settled into our system so well and he’s all class, but he needs a couple of runs before the big races.”
Those big races are the $100,000 Group 1 Sunshine Sprint on July 17 and the $250,000 Blacks A Fake a week later.
Spankem should be too classy despite the outside draw (gate seven) and a couple of handy rivals like the emerging Uncle Jord (gate three) and last week’s Flashing Red winner Kid Montana (eight).
Rasmussen, who was a bit sore and sorry after last week’s tumble, will take the reins again this week.
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Fans will have to wait another week for the return of one of Australia's top pacers Shockwave.
“I very nearly ran him this week, but my gut-feel was he could do with another week of work and there’s no real rush,” trainer Ryan Bell said.
“He may trial again this Sunday, but you’ll definitely see him in the Winter Cup next week.”
Bell hopes this is the campaign which finally gets him across to chase the biggest races on Australia's east coast.
Shockwave hasn't raced since November 20, last year, when he copped a three-month ban from racing after he bled when third to Chicago Bull in the Group 1 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park.
He'd won or run second at his 11 previous runs and was touted by many as a major emerging Grand Circuit force.
"I think we're jinxed, that's the second time we'd had interstate flights booked and something happened to derail it," Bell said. "We still think the bleed was virus related because we had a few others in the stable who got crook at the same time.
"Regardless, he's come back bigger and stronger. If he comes back as well as we think, the plans are to go across early (to Melbourne) for the Victoria Cup and then go from there to the (Sydney) Inter Dominion."
Despite the absence of Shockwave, the free-for-all is still a ripper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Chicago Bull lines up for the fourth consecutive week, but faces the outside draw (gate nine) in his quest to post his first win this campaign.
Team Bond pair Patronus Star (gate four) and Mighty Conqueror (seven) add class, as do the likes of Vultan Tin (eight), Perfect Major (six) and Balcatherine (three).
On the same card, Whos The Dad (gate two), The Miki Taker (four) and Whataretheodds (seven) headline a ripper field in the $100,000 2YO Pearl Classic.
Another highlight will be the clash between superstar three-year-old Lavra Joe (gate seven) against exciting open-class pacer To Fast To Serious (five) in the fourth event.
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David Aiken has called on champion driver Chris Alford to drive classy pacer Max Delight for the first time in the Italian Cup at Melton on Saturday night.
Alford and Aiken have shared great success together, most notably with Lennytheshark, and Max Delight is Aiken’s current stable star.
Max Delight, a budding superstar at three, has shown glimpses in this comeback campaign and looks well graded despite an outside back row draw (13) in an Italian Cup lacking any standouts.
The other Melton feature is the Group Three La Coocaracha Mares’ trotting free-for-all where Marg Lee’s exciting Keayang Livana will vie for favouritism with Andy Gath’s classy Monaro Maro.