Spankem wins Taylor Mile

by Michael Guerin

It was like we had all gone back in time at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Back to the days when there was no Covid so crowds could come to the track, when Aussies popped across the Tasman on the day of the races and when Spankem was leading and winning the Taylor Mile.

And now with the months ahead hopefully looking far more like 2019 than the Groundhog Day of the last two years, driver Natalie Rasmussen says there is no reason Spankem can’t return to Australia and take up where he left off.

Just like in 2019, Spankem jumped to the lead and was too good in 1:52.2 on Friday night, holding out trailer Hot And Treacherous and the luckless Self Assured, who flew into third after having to take evasive action when South Coast Arden and Krug locked wheels at the 900m mark.

That changed the complexion of the race but after his issues when getting sick in Queensland last year nobody could begrudge Spankem his win, especially after being away from the races for so long.

He may not be as razor sharp as the pacer who won the Miracle Mile that year but he is still fast, willing and brave and Rasmusssen says he will be even better in the Messenger next Friday.

“He has to be because he can only get fitter because he has had so little racing,” says Rasmussen.

“I think he will be better next week but by the sounds of how Self Assured went, which I couldn’t see from in front, he will need to be.
Sounds like he went huge.”

Rasmussen says while dust in her native Queensland is suggested as one of the reasons Spankem got sick there last year she wouldn’t be against seeing him campaign there again this winter.

“It is a great carnival and there isn’t much here for him after the Auckland Cup so it is worth thinking about.”

Hot And Treacherous was good, as the trailer often is in a Taylor Mile, Self Assured’s run left no doubt he is the best pacer in the country while Cranbourne was gutsy after sitting parked and there was also merit in A G’s White Sock’s run after being pushed wide in that incident at the 900m.

Driver Cam Hart says Aussie visitor Majestic Cruiser got lost in the race and didn’t travel but he expects him to be far better for the experience and he will stay on for the Messenger.

While Spankem was fantastic there was no doubting who left the biggest impression on Friday night and that was the biggest horse in the Steward’s Mile Trot.

Trotting excitement machine Muscle Mountain didn’t really seem to enjoy his first start right-handed but it didn’t matter, nor did sitting parked.

When it became evident early that Temporale wasn’t going to hand the lead away young driver Ben Hope was happy to sit parked even though Muscle Mountain looked like he had had a few too many drinks, wobbling this way and that.

Hope was still able to control the race and even after a big home bend drift Muscle Mountain still kicked hard at the 200m like the very, very good trotter he is turning into.

That gave him the winning break over Sundees Son, who never really looked a winning chance as the race went pear-shaped for him in every possible way.

It proved what we all already knew. When they are right, Muscle Mountain and Bolt For Brilliance can beat Sundees Son IF they get in front of him.

Which makes next Friday’s National Trot and next month’s Rowe Cup an awful lot of fun.

“But the problem is beating over the longer distances,” admitted Hope.

Muscle Mountain may not be Sundees Son just yet, maybe he never will be because few trotters in our history have been that good.

But he really is something in full flight Muscle Mountain, just one more reason the sooner we get a trotting slot race to showcase these magnificent talents the better.

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