Tim Williams to drive Spankem
By Michael Guerin
The drive on a last-start Miracle Mile winner doesn’t get given away very often so Tim Williams knows he is a lucky man.
But he might still need every ounce of that luck to turn his golden opportunity into something more tangible in the $100,000 Breckon Farms Easter Cup at Addington on Friday night.
Williams, the third-string driver for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, will be given the reins behind Spankem even though after his Miracle Mile victory five weeks ago you could make the case he isn’t just the best horse in their stable but as good as any in Australasia.
But a thankful Williams wasn’t surprised his bosses opted to stay with their more regular drives.
“Natalie drove Thefixer to win the New Zealand Cup and Mark has driven Turn It Up all along, including his Auckland Cup win,” says Williams.
“When Turn It Up didn’t go to Aussie it meant Mark could get back on Spankem but I can understand him sticking with Turn It Up now they all back together.
“But I’m in a pretty privileged position to get on a horse like him straight after he wins a Miracle Mile.”
Not that it by any means guarantees victory as the race is now shaping as the strongest of the season in New Zealand, even superior to the New Zealand Cup.
While Tiger Tara started in the New Zealand Cup along with Dream About Me, this Friday’s race has that NZ Cup winner, the Auckland Cup and Miracle Mile heroes as well as Easter Cup defending champion A G’s White Socks, the in-form Henry Hubert and former Jewels winners Eamon Maguire and Jack’s Legend, the latter having also finished second to Lazarus in a NZ Cup 18 months ago.
Williams admits nobody at the All Stars knows what to expect.
“I think everybody likes to think they might know what will happen in a race but when it is a 3200m standing start handicap it is impossible to tell.
“So I am looking forward to seeing what happens like everybody else.”
Turn It Up will likely start favourite even though he hasn’t raced for three months because he gets a 10m start over Spankem and Thefixer (20m) but those advantages can disappear with the slightest bobble or scrap of bad luck.
While the Easter Cup isn’t easy to predict the $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm NZ Derby got a whole lot clearer after the pre-draw favourite Ultimate Sniper drew barrier four after emergencies.
While he cost punters plenty when galloping last start in the Flying Stakes he has worked well since and with stablemate Jesse Duke on the second line Ultimate Sniper will start well into the red.
So too will Enhance Your Calm in the $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby but the $100,000 NZ Trotting Champs looks a good puzzle, with newcomer King’s Landing (three) and veteran Speeding Spur (four) getting the better of Marcoola (six) in the draws.
TAB markets for the group ones should be open today.