Spirit Of St Louis is back to take on top class field
By Adam Hamilton
Young gun driver Jack Callaghan can't wait to reunite with star pacer Spirit Of St Louis at Menangle on Saturday night.
The pair has been a huge force on the Grand Circuit for the past 18 months and are aiming at a string of majors again through the back half of this year.
And Callaghan has his heart set on winning one of them, as much for Spirit Of St Louis as himself.
"He just deserves to grab one of the really big ones," he said. "He's run second in so many of them and a part of the Inter Dominion late year when he was below his best, he's just been so amazingly consistent in the top races."
The Kiwi-bred Spirit Of St Louis has won 24 races and almost $1.15m, but his near misses have been quite a story.
They include two seconds in Miracle Miles, runner-up in a Hunter Cup and second in the inaugural $1mil Nullarbor at his most recent run at Gloucester Park on April 14.
"Let's hope this is his campaign coming up," Callaghan said.
"He seems to have come back well and we're using this week's race to help decide how early he goes to Queensland for the big races."
Spirit Of St Louis was given a recent Menangle standing-start trial to keep the option open for the $100,000 Redcliffe Cup on June 24.
Co-trainer Luke McCarthy said Redcliffe was an option for both Spirit Of St Louis and the enigmatic Expensive Ego.
"They've both had standing start trials and handled it well," he said. "We have made any final decisions yet. Let's get through the next week or so and then we will.
"Spirit Of St Louis, Expensive Ego, Bondi Lockdown and maybe even old Alta Orlando, who's racing as well as ever, are the open-class horses we're looking to take north as part of a big team."
Bondi Lockdown is one of Spirit Of St Louis' major rivals in a ripper J D Watts Memorial (1609m) at Menangle on Saturday night.
Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow (gate one) and former high-class Kiwi pacer South Coast Arden (eight) are others in the race.
South Coast Arden is stepping up in class from his only run for new trainer Paul Fitzpatrick when an impressive Bathurst winner.
McCarthy said former Kiwi four-year-old Cantfindabettorman was another key Queensland raider.
"He ran that booming race in the Chariots from last and has trained on well. He'll go to the Patrons Purse at Redcliffe and then the Rising Sun," he said.
"We also like Peaceful for the Oaks and Rocknroll Hammer for the Derby."