Spirit Of St Louis Snares a big one

FORMER Kiwi pacer Spirit Of St Louis enjoyed getting away from his glamour stablemates to snare his biggest Aussie win in last night’s $70,000 Group 2 Bendigo Cup.

It was his first start since a strong NSW Inter Dominion campaign where the five-year-old he won a heat, was placed in the other two then finished eighth in the final.

Team McCarthy entrusted young gun Jack Callaghan with the drive on Spirit Of St Louis, giving the 20-year-old his first opportunity to drive in Victoria.

“I was going to head down for the Vicbred finals, but it didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do and this was a great opportunity.

“I’d never driven Spirit Of St Louis at the races before this, either, but I work for Belinda and Luke and have been on him in trackwork a lot.

“I was pretty confident. He’s a lovely horse, probably a couple of lengths below the very best at home like King Of Swing and Expensive Ego, but without them in the races he looked very well suited.”

Callaghan, who finished second in the NSW statewide and fourth in the Sydney metro driving titles last season, didn’t panic early when John

Caldow surprised a bit by wanting to hold the lead, but Spirit Of St Louis eventually found the front and never really looked in danger.

He cruised through a very cosy 61.7sec middle half then ripped home in 54.5 and 26.7sec to easily hold-off a gallant and classy Triple Eight, who made an early move to sit parked.

“He felt great. I thought I had them covered a fair way out,” Callaghan said.

Spirit Of St Louis won by 3.9m in a 1min58.9sec mile over Triple Eight with Tango Tara the hardluck story, closing strongly late for third after being held-up by the tiring Torrid Saint at a crucial stage.

Spirit Of St Louis 15 starts for Team McCarthy and Summit Bloodstock have netted six wins and four placings.

The next logical steps for Spirit Of St Louis are the Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 22 and then the Hunter Cup on February 5.

Callaghan’s first Victorian meeting was a mixed bag with brilliant former US trotting mare Aldebaran Revani galloping early and losing all chance in the Group 1 Maori Mile won by Im Ready Jet.

Last night’s Bendigo meeting also saw the return to racing of 2019 NZ Cup winner Cruz Bromac.

The 10-year-old looked the winner rounding the final bend after making a lightning early move around the field to take the lead.

But Emma Stewart’s Like A Wildfire unleashed a huge finishing burst around the field to nab Cruz Bromac and win by 1.1m.

It explained trainer Dean Braun’s decision to bypass the Bendigo Cup for the easier free-for-all.

No doubt the run will bring on Cruz Bromac a lot given he hasn’t raced for almost 14 months.

Options for Cruz Bromac include backing-up in next week’s Shepparton Cup against Lochinvar Art, the Ballarat Cup on January 22 or the Casey Classic (also a target for Lochinvar Art) on January 29.

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