Spankem wins Miracle Mile

NZ HARNESS NEWS

New Zealand pacer Spankem completed his ascension to the top of Australasia’s pacing ranks with a polished front-running win in the A$1 Million Miracle Mile in Sydney on Saturday night.

His win was part of another memorable night for the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who ran the quinella with Thefixer and also won the New South Wales Oaks and Ladyship Mile on the undercard.

An aggressive Purdon drive early on in the race proved the telling factor as he sped to the lead, headed off his stablemate before burning home in 52.6 to get the win, the race time 1.47.7.

Those back in the field, such as Tiger Tara, Chase Auckland and Poster Boy simply could not get in to the race, while last year’s winner My Field Marshal, was pulled up after suffering an atrial fibrillation shortly after the start.

Purdon said he expected this season’s standout pacer, Tiger Tara, to come forward and give him the one-one, but when that didn’t eventuate, plans changed.

“I went out of the gate thinking Tiger Tara would probably give me cover but when I realised I sort of had half a length on Thefixer, I thought I’d press on to the front and it worked out well from there on.”

Spankem had won the final qualifying race for the Miracle Mile, the $100,000 G1 Canadian Club Sprint, seven days earlier, and Purdon said his confidence had sky-rocketed in the seven days since.

“He’s just in a really good place. He just peaked on the night.

“The week had gone great with him since his win in the heat and I couldn’t have been happier with him going in to it.”

Purdon described the scintillating last half as “phenomenal”.

It’s been an interesting two years for Spankem, who was crowned Champion Two-Year-Old of his year but became the forgotten horse in his sophomore year last season.

He only won once from seven starts and seemingly fell down the pecking order behind the likes of Chase Auckland and Sicario.

But he’s been rejuvenated this season, winning two Inter Dominion heats, the Kaikoura Cup, the Canadian Club and now the richest race on the calendar, the latter putting him within a whisker of the elite equine millionaires’ club.

It was also the first Miracle Mile driving success for Purdon, who won the race once previously as a trainer, with Have Faith In Me in 2016.

Brilliant mare Dream About ended her career in the best possible fashion with a win in the A$200,000 G1 Ladyship Mile, convincingly turning the tables on her adversary from last week, Tell Me Tales.

Purdon put to bed any doubts about her speed by rushing her off the arm from barrier two, leading and winning convincingly in 1.50.1, home in 53.9.

Connections made the decision post-race that she would be retired immediately.

“Mary (Kenny) and I, and Mark and Natalie, we were in total agreement,” said co-owner Paul Kenny.

“It was a very short discussion and a great way to finish what for us and for her has been a sparking career.”

One race earlier, Princess Tiffany set what is believed to be a world record for a three-year-old filly when destroying her opponents in the A$200,000 G1 New South Wales Oaks.

She led for Rasmussen and simply beat them in to submission, winning by five lengths untouched, rating 1.53.4 for the mile-and-a-half trip.

Any issues that bothered her in Auckland before Christmas are well and truly gone, judging by her winning effort.

Rounding out a near-perfect night was All U Need Is Faith’s all-the-way win in the race on the night, an A$25,000 event, Ashley Locaz’s defeat in the A$100,000 Bohemia Crystal the only blot in the All Stars’ copy book.

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