Spirit Of St Louis to battle older horses
By Jonny Turner
Star Otago pacer Spirit Of St Louis is set to show off his speed in today’s Roxburgh Cup.
The Graeme Anderson-trained 3yr-old will dare to go where few horses of his age do when competing in the 2700m feature handicap.
Spirit Of St Louis will give older and more experienced horses a head start when starting from the 20m mark.
That is the price the 3yr-old has to pay for rushing through the harness racing grades with the impressive start he has made to his career.
"It is hard to find the right race for him, that is the problem now," Anderson said.
"But it wasn’t the best cup field I ever saw, so that is why I put him in as a late nomination.
"And the South Of The Waitaki race was probably harder."
Spirit Of St Louis had his first start since winning the South Of The Waitaki event at Addington during the New Zealand Cup Carnival when running second to smart 3yr-old Minstrel at Gore last week.
Anderson was pleased with the effort, and has seen improvement in his horse since.
"The winner is a pretty smart horse, but I think if you reverse their runs and we didn’t have to lead up in to the wind, you would probably reverse the result."
"That was only last Friday, so he hasn’t done much, but he seems good."
Anderson hopes driver Matthew Williamson can make the most of Spirit Of St Louis’s high speed today.
"We will look to drive him for his speed and look for one to follow."
On form, Robyns Playboy would be one of the biggest threats to Spirit Of St Louis today.
The Ross and Chris Wilson-trained pacer was well off his game when running second-last in the Gore Cup.
"He just didn’t seem interested at all," Ross said.
"He is usually quiet in the stalls, but he was kicking the stalls, so maybe he might have had a crook gut..."
"We have been pleased with him since then [though] and his work has been very good."
Robyns Playboy opened the third favourite in fixed odds betting on today’s event at $5.50.
Spirit Of St Louis opened at $2.90 win odds over Canterbury raider Enchantee at $5.
Matthew Williamson has the drives behind the favourites in both the feature pace and feature trot at today’s meeting.
The reinsman will reunite with Fanny Hill, who has been campaigning at premier meetings at Alexandra Park.
Fanny Hill opened the $1.80 favourite for race 1, a 2700m handicap event.
The Phil Williamson-trained 4yr-old will take on just five rivals when she starts from the 10m mark.