Racing: Speeding Spur big chance in Southern Star

By Michael Guerin

Speeding Spur. Photo / Stuart McCormick
Speeding Spur. Photo / Stuart McCormick

A private workout on Monday has convinced driver Josh Dickie that Speeding Spur can defend his A$300,000 Great Southern Star title tomorrow.

The five-year-old multiple group one winner has travelled to Melbourne to try to cap a remarkable comeback, as just six weeks ago Dickie and his father John had written off the summer after a six-month injury break.

They changed their minds as Speeding Spur started to sharpen in his work and went to Alexandra Park last Thursday thinking if Speeding Spur performed well they would take the gamble on starting in tomorrow night's 2760m mobile second up.

Speeding Spur was a massive second off his 55m backmark and while the run sealed the trip, it was his work on Monday that boosted their confidence levels.

"Because he has been away from racing for so long we found in some of his works, even last week, he was getting tired late," admits Josh.

"But Monday was different. He had that hard enough run last Thursday and it has really brought him on.

"He worked like his old self on Monday and came his last 400m in times pacers don't go on our track.

"So we couldn't be happier and we are thrilled to have him there."

John Dickie travelled with Speeding Spur on Tuesday and was pleased with how he settled in and the three-time Derby winner has an almost perfect barrier four, from where he has a huge chance of working to the lead.

In front and without insane pressure he looks incredibly hard to beat.

Kiwi mares Quite A Moment and Sunny Ruby would both benefit from any early burn that turned the race into a staying test, with NSW trotter On Thunder Road the most likely to get into any sort of war with Speeding Spur.

The Great Southern Star is the trotting highlight of a night where New Zealand-trained horses could start favourite in all seven races they contest, headlined by Smolda in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup.

His draw of two on the second line should see him settle in front of key rival Lennytheshark and he looks a massive chance of working his way to the lead, from where it would take a special performance to beat him.

His stablemate Vincent is another with a second line draw but even worse being on the inside in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby but he was so dominant in his heat last Saturday he should be able to overcome it.

But the draw does raise the possibility of traffic concerns so trainer-driver Mark Purdon might need to be at his aggressive best.

Purdon looks set for an effortless group one win with Lazarus in the A$100,000 Bonanza, which he is racing in because it qualifies him for the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney next week, a springboard to the Miracle Mile on February 25.

And stablemate Piccadilly Princess is odd-on to win the A$100,000 Ladyship Cup, with Rocker Band's chance dented by a poor draw, one of three on the night for trainer Barry Purdon, who also has Be Jack's Legend (Derby) and Hug The Wind (Hunter Cup) off the second line.

Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me, Chase The Dream and the unbeaten Partyon all race at Menangle tomorrow night as well.

Closer to home New Zealand's two best three-year-old trotters Habibi Inta and Enghien resume their rivalry in the Hambletonian at Ashburton tomorrow while Cambridge cram seven races into just 170 minutes tonight.

Weekend winners
Best bet: Bettor B Amazed (Cambridge R3): Loves a hard run sprint trip and likely to press forward early from wide.

Down in grade: Big Mach (Cambridge R5): Has raced well in better Alexandra Park fields so looks well placed.

Upset: Chase The Dream (Menangle, R7): Has huge fitness edge over Auckland Cup-winning stablemate Dream About Me in what could be a 1:50 mile.

- NZ Herald

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