Racing: Speeding Spur meets big three at Melton

By Michael Guerin

Last season's champion three-year-old trotter Speeding Spur is in for a trial by fire this weekend.

And co-trainer Josh Dickie admits the three-time Derby winner could produce the run of his career on Saturday night and still get beaten.

Speeding Spur returns to Melton, where he won the Breeders Crown in August as a red hot favourite, but this time on the back hoof.

He not only meets arch rival and champion in waiting Monbet, but Australia's two best trotters Keystone Del and Glenferrie Typhoon in the A$100,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix.

And to make matters worse all three have drawn inside him, with Speeding Spur's draw of six at the 2240m mobile start having one Australian bookie open him at $15.

"It isn't going to be easy, we realise that," says Dickie, who trains the four-year-old with his father John.

"But we said we were going and we can't back out just because of the draw.

"It makes it harder, especially if we settle behind those other big three, which looks likely.

"But this race isn't just about this week. It is also a chance to see where he stands in the pecking order and what we should do going forward," he said.

More particularly that means whether Speeding Spur should return to Melbourne next month for the A$400,000 Great Southern Star.

"We will know more after this week," says Dickie.

"If, for example, Monbet goes home after this race and doesn't come back for the Great Southern Star then we have to be in it. But if we come out this week and go great then we won't be scared to take him on again if he is in the Great Southern Star.

"But rather than guessing we will let him do the talking on the track this week." After two amazing unbeaten runs in Australia, Monbet is a $1.50 favourite for the Grand Prix.

Kiwi pacers dominate the market for the A$500,000 Hunter Cup later in the night, with Ohoka Punter joining Smolda at the head of the market as a $3 chance.

He shortened after drawing barrier three in the 3280m standing start, with Smolda at five but with Ohoka Punter tending to be slightly quicker away from the stand.

"The barrier is perfect and if he can get to the front we will be staying there," said Ohoka Punter's driver Anthony Butt.

The big loser in the draw is Mossdale Conner, who starts off the second line, negating his standing start brilliance.

- NZ Herald

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