Spankem gets Kaikoura Cup
NZ HARNESS NEWS
The Kaikoura Cup raised more questions than it answered when Spankem beat Pat’s Delight in a quinella of pacers not bound for the New Zealand Cup.
Spankem continued his four-year-old resurgence with a front-running win in Monday’s Gr.2 feature for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and driver Tim Williams.
The four-year-old’s victory saw big-name New Zealand Cup contenders, including Eamon Maguire and Star Galleria, left in Spankem's wake and punters left scratching their heads ahead of next month’s great race.
Spankem’s win signalled he has definitely put the niggles that led to the disappointing end of his three-year-old season behind him.
The horse was forced in to the spelling paddock earlier than expected last term, when returning from Australia feeling flat after a Victoria Derby campaign in January.
“He was just well below himself and he just had a small tendon issue,” part-owner Philip Kennard said.
“So, we sent him to Matamata and had him agisted there and to work his way through the injury.
“He was then swum and came through the same campaign as Lazarus and Ultimate Machete.”
“He has always been a beautiful racehorse and if you look at both of his runs this season they have been really good.
“His run at Ashburton was phenomenal when you look at the last 800m they ran and the ground he lost.”
Despite beating New Zealand Cup contenders, there are no immediate regrets in the Spankem camp about the horse not being nominated for next month’s 3200m feature.
“I don’t want to see him over two miles at this stage, he is only four and he has got plenty ahead of him,” Kennard said.
Though beaten, Pat’s Delight announced his arrival on the open-class scene with a massive effort to run second after sitting parked for the majority of Monday’s race.
Third-placed Eamon Maguire looked to have few excuses when unable to sprint past either of the first two placegetters along the passing lane.
However the horse was set a challenging task with Spankem running a 26.4sec closing 400m.
Star Galleria was slow to begin in Monday's 2400m event, but driver Tony Herlihy was able to give the Steven Reid trained pacer a nice run in the one-one for most of the race.
The horse was unable to capitalise on that and only battled in to fifth placing in the straight.
Cruz Bromac put in arguably the best run of the race's New Zealand Cup contenders when sprinting strongly to take fourth after racing in midfield.
The only mark against the All Stars pacer came when he was slightly slow to step away from the barriers.
His getaway was not aided when he was caught standing sideways when the tape was released.
Cruz Bromac joins a growing group of horses that have not began cleanly in their latest standing start attempt ahead of the New Zealand Cup.
They include Chicago Bull, Ultimate Machete, Star Galleria and No Doctor Needed.