Spirit of St Louis takes out Shepparton Cup

By Adam Hamilton

Comeback star Lochinvar Art and the emerging Spirit Of St Louis are poised for a rematch in next Saturday night’s Group 1 Ballarat Cup.

And you can throw champion former Kiwi mare Amazing Dream in the mix, too.

Lochinvar Art, first-up for almost a year, was beaten but mightily brave at the same time when second to Spirit Of St Louis in the weekend's Group 2 Shepparton Cup (2690m).

They smashed the track record with a 1min55.6sec mile rate.

“You can’t ask for any more than that,” Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said. “Sure, I’d love to have won, but he just had to work really hard getting around them and then a lovely horse had the last drop on him.

“Maybe I should’ve just sat back and waited, but I was worried about the traffic in front of me.

“He felt good coming to the last bend, but the work told and he just got tired late. He kept trying right to the line.

“There were so many great signs given the long time he’s had out.

“I knew he was pretty fit, but you can only get them so fit without a race. He’ll come on a lot for this.”

“Give me 48hrs to see how he comes through this run,” he said. “Ballarat is the preference, but I could also wait another week and go to the Casey Classic the week before the Hunter Cup,” he said.

“Given the two trials, that run and another one, I think he’ll be pretty close to exactly where I’d want him going into the Hunter Cup (February 5).”

Former Kiwi pacer Spirit Of St Louis’ emergence continued courtesy of yet another superb drive from NSW young gun Jack Callaghan.

He didn’t get involved in the early speed, but moved around to sit parked and then get the one-one sit on Lochinvar Art in the middle to late stages.

“He’s only a wee little fella, but his heart’s the size of himself, so it’s a thrill to be driving him,” Callaghan said.

“It all worked out perfectly, I got around at a good time and then got that cover from Arty down the back straight. All I had to do was sprint up the home straight.”

Spirit Of St Louis, who won a heat of the recent NSW Inter Dominion, has clearly grown from the experience given his two runs since have netted wins in the Bendigo and now Shepparton Cups.

Co-trainer Luke McCarthy confirmed plans were for Spirit Of St Louis to back-up a third in a week at Ballarat next Saturday.

The hardluck story of the Shepparton was classy former Kiwi pacer Tango Tara, who sat behind the leader, but was dragged right out of the race when that leader (Mach Da Vinci) stopped badly.

Tango Tara was fifth, while Mach Da Vinci seems to have lost all his great form a few months back. He was a distant last.

Tango Tara’s driver Kate Gath still had a great night at Shepparton with four wins, headed by brilliant trotter Majestuoso.

His speed is something to behold and there’s no doubt he is a major contender for the upcoming Great Southern Star on his best form.

Gath Gath made a midrace move to sit parked and he looked set for an easy win rounding the final bend, but he either got tired or loafed a bit in front and veteran Sundons Courage stormed home from well back to get within 1.4m.

The Great Southern Star heats and finals are run on the same night, February 4 at Melton.

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