Spankem the one to beat

The bet: The $6 offered for Spankem fixed odds was silly money for a horse in form even allowing for the strength of the field.

Multi makers: Enhance Your Calm (R3, No.8) and Ultimate Sniper (R9, No.9) won’t make you rich but that could add some handy interest to you other bets.

Fair price: Marcoola (R5, No.6): The best trotter in the country and goes well fresh so the bookies giving punters a real chance.

By Michael Guerin

The most important factor Spankem has on his side going into tonight’s $100,000 Easter Cup is the one thing you can’t see.

 The 3200m race looms as a thriller with the winners of the New Zealand and Auckland Cups in Thefixer and Turn It Up as well as last-start Miracle Mile winner Spankem with a super-strong support cast on Addington’s most dazzling night of the season.

 Many of the indicators punters might use for making their decision are there in plain sight — the standing start and 3200m records, video performances from races and trials, the handicaps and draws while we can all rate the big three and their rivals on how we personally feel about them.

 But the one thing you can’t see but you can ask is who is the horse in the zone right now?. Because when the competition is this tough and even, the horse who is closest to their peak is often the one who can run through the pain barrier to win.

 That horse might be Spankem.

 While co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen says all five of their starters in the Cup are ready to go, she believes Spankem is the one in that zone.

 “Obviously any one of our top three could win without surprising us and it might simply come down to luck in the running,” says Rasmussen.

“But Spankem seems perfect, really where he needs to be. He was spot on when he won the Miracle Mile and he hasn’t lost any of that.

 “He couldn’t be better so if I had to opt for one it would probably be him.”

 That doesn’t guarantee any success as Spankem still faces a 20m handicap and the chance of bad luck that brings and new driver Tim Williams will need to join the battle at the right time.

For example if he follows Thefixer around the field and has to sit parked giving the latter the one-one maybe he probably can’t win. Reverse that scenario and Spankem becomes the one to beat out of the pair.

 The horse punters might struggle to work out the exact fitness of is Turn It Up, who might be the best pacer in the country.

 The Auckland Cup winner hasn’t raced for three months but wouldn’t be here unless his champion trainers thought he could win.

 But very, very few horses in the modern history of New Zealand harness racing have won group one 3200m without a lead-up race. Turn It Up might be that good but his odds aren’t really tempting enough to find out.

 While the Easter Cup could come down to any combination of those variables tonight’s two Derbys both look far more straight forward.

If both Ultimate Sniper ($200,000 Pacing Derby) and Enhance You Calm ($100,000 Trotting Derby) behave themselves and race up to their potential they should both him.

 The NZ Trot Champs is a battle of the established in Speeding Spur and Marcoola against the four-year-olds but Marcoola is still top trotting dog until somebody wrestles that title off him.

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