Speeding Spur heading to North America
By Michael Guerin
Highlights: Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star, NZ Free-For-All, NZ Trot Champs (twice), NZ, Northern and Vic Derbys, Breeders Crown.
One of New Zealand’s most loved racehorses is set to make a shock departure after contesting the $150,000 Rowe Cup on Friday night.
Because while nine-time Group one winner Speeding Spur might have been expected to retire this weekend, he is instead heading to North America for a rich campaign.
Managing owner Andrew Grierson says the reigning Trotter of the Year has not been sold and will definitely be returning to New Zealand to stand at stud next season.
Speeding Spur faces a second line draw as he tries to defend the Rowe Cup title he won last season and victory in the great trot will almost certainly guarantee him Trotter of the Year again as he is the only trotter to win two Group ones already this season.
Raced by a partnership put together by Woodlands Stud, Speeding Spur was expected to retire to stud there but Grierson says the opportunity to race in North America and further embellish that stud career was too good to miss.
“Eventually we want to stand him at stud in either New Zealand or Australia,” says Grierson, one of the principals of Woodlands Stud.
“But getting good mares and a decent book is our greatest challenge with a colonial-bred stallion, even one with his record.
“So we will give him his chance up there and he has been staked for some of the major races.”
His targets include the US$1million International Trot at Yonkers on October 12 for which Speeding Spur is likely to be the Down Under invite while he has been paid up for a host of other major races, victory in any of which would greatly add to his worth at stud.
Even if he can’t be the best in the States, which would be a huge ask at his age, Speeding Spur could easily trot a 1:53 mile on one of the faster tracks, all of which would help secure more mares when he makes his way back home.
Owned by a Woodlands syndicate as well as All Blacks Kieran Read and Andy Ellis and former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler, Speeding Spur’s ownership will be restructured for the next phase of his career.
“He is not being sold,” says Grierson.
“He is 100% owned by Woodlands. He will be leased from Woodlands Stud and raced under a new Woodlands NZ Racing Syndicate.
“The membership of that new syndicate includes some who race him now.”
Speeding Spur has been a true racing warrior, winning every season from two to seven-years old.
He won three Derbys, the Great Southern Star when it was two sprints races in one night at Melton and also over the short trips of a NZ Trot Free-For-All to the 3200m of the Rowe Cup.
In between he has overcome two career-threatening injuries and other issues so has little left to prove in Australasia, already warning his way into the elite trotting millionaires club.
He has been trained throughout his career by John and Josh Dickie, with the latter having driven him in all but one of his 27 victories, with Kate Gath having filled in for one Victorian win.
Speeding Spur faces a tricky second line in his final New Zealand start on Friday night meaning he could need some early luck to get handy, the position from where he has been most potent during his career.
Breeding: 7h Pegasus Spur- Della’s Speed.
Trainers: John and Josh Dickie.
Drivers: Josh Dickie (26 wins), Kate Gath (one win from one drive).
Record: 55 starts, 27 wins, 20 placings, $1,092,166.