Day At The Track

Mega clash of the ID18 series

09:00 AM 04 Dec 2018 NZDT
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Speeding Spur,Harness racing
Speeding Spur
Stuart McCormack photo

The man behind Kiwi trotting star Speeding Spur says he is as interested as everybody else to find out how the first mega clash of the series unfolds at Ballarat tonight.

 Because trainer-driver Josh Dickie admits he doesn’t know whether he can beat leading Aussie hope Tornado Valley as the series moves into the second round of heats.

 New Zealand-trained horses won three of the Inter Dominion heats on the opening night at Melton on Saturday, with Cruz Bromac and Spankem impressive in their pacing events and Speeding Spur dominant in his trotting one.

 But while the Kiwi pacers will be favoured in two of the three pacing heats over the 1710m mobile at Ballarat tonight, the second trotting heat could be the clash of the night.

  Speeding Spur and Tornado Valley were so impressive winning their first night heats it is hard to envisage one of the pair not winning the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday week and punters get a sneak preview of that tonight.

 While some would like to see the pair, who completely dominate the market for the final, kept apart until then to create suspense, that wouldn’t be fair on their rivals.

 So they clash in the second trotting heat at 10.02pm (NZ time) tonight, with Speeding Spur having a potentially big advantage drawing barrier five while Tornado Valley will start from the outside of the front line at seven.

 Both have gate speed, Tornado Valley’s probably slightly higher after his steady diet of Australian racing, but co-trainer Dickie knows what he has to do to beat his key rival.

 “Obviously I want to stay in front of him from the draw,” admits Dickie.

 “I think I can because my horse has good gate speed and we couldn’t have been happier with how he won on Saturday.

 “He has been working really well, felt great in the race and I think his below par effort in the Dominion (two starts ago) was just an off day.

“He has always loved it over here and seems happy to be back so we are confident.”The Dickies, Josh and his father John, are getting to see plenty of Tornado Valley as he is trained by Andy Gath, with who Speeding Spur is always stabled when he races in Victoria.

 “He (Tornado Valley) is a lovely horse and we are no good thing to beat him,” says Dickie.

 “So I suppose we are a bit like everybody else, keen to see how they match up against each other.

 “But we have the advantage at the start and we will be doing our best to use it.”

 Every Inter Dominion needs a wow race to set up the rest of the carnival and the early battle of the trotting series favourites could be just that, even though it will be hardly definitive as a Grand Final guide, with that group one next week over 2760m and the final’s draw probably just as important.

 After tonight’s sprint heats it looks likely all three New Zealanders in the pacing series would have won at least one heat with It’s Pats Delight, who finished a brave second to Spankem on Saturday, drawn to get maximum points in his heat at 11pm.

His task has been aided further by one-time series favourite Shadow Sax, who was drawn in the same heat as I’m Pats Delight, being scratched from tonight and the remainder of the series after pulling up sore after Saturday.

 Cruz Bromac is a hot favourite in his heat, the final one tonight, but his $1.45 fixed odds price seems awfully short considering his second line draw.

 “It is never easy to win sprint races off the second line because you really need them to slow up in the middle stages to get into the race otherwise you have to come wide late,” said trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen.

 So while he is vying for final favouritism, Cruz Bromac is too short to be betting big on tonight with luck such a factor.

 Spankem races in the toughest heat of the night at 10.32pm (NZ time) and he would need to produce something special to win as he not only faces a second line draw but high class opponents in Wrappers Delight, San Carlo and Tiger Tara.


Michael Guerin

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