Day At The Track

Lets hear it for the girls

12:40 PM 20 May 2017 NZST
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Spanish Armada
HRNZ photo

Natalie Rasmussen’s reserved, but powerful, raise of the fist at the end of last night’s New Zealand Oaks at Addington was a salute to a filly who she is fast considering to be one of her favourite horses of all time.

Naturally, nothing will ever quite measure up to the legendary Black’s A Fake, but if you asked the 16-time New Zealand Group One winning driver who was next, Spanish Armada’s name would be right up there.

“I’ve just got so much time for this horse,” Rasmussen said.

“She’s everything you could ask for in a horse really, she’s one of my most favourite horses at the moment.”

With brimming confidence and a strong knowledge of what was going on around her, Rasmussen was on a one-way mission in the $150,000 Group One last night and was never going to back down from the challenge of starting off the second row and having to work her way into the race.

“I just had so much faith in her, and what she is capable of.

“Her work during the week was exceptional I thought and she really felt on top of her game so I knew we were good to go heading into the race.

“The circumstances worked out alright, but she did have to work quite a few times in the race in tricky conditions.

“But her staying ability was always going to be her best asset and it showed with the way she really kept at it the entire way to the line.”

Despite the inclement weather, Spanish Armada still managed to stop the clock in a staggering 3:09.1, obliterating the previous best mark for a three-year-old filly in a 2600 metre mobile, which was held by De Lovely from when we won the Oaks in 3:10.9 back in 2010.

It was another magical moment for Jean Feiss, who has enjoyed a stellar run over the past few seasons.

And that fun hasn’t stopped.

The Harness Jewels are the next stop on the path to greatness for Spanish Armada and based on her performances over the past two weeks, she’s going to be the one they all have to beat again over the mile at Ashburton.

Bonnie Joan was a gallant second, beaten by a superstar, after doing plenty of work.

“She’s gone great, as good as she could have really,” Dexter Dunn said of his drive.

Upmost Delight emerged from the pack to run a strong third and earn herself a Jewels berth while Mark Purdon was simply beaming at the effort of Partyon who ran on strongly from well back in the field for fourth.

Purdon, less than 45 minutes earlier, had been tasting big race success himself as a driver when he partnered Spankem to win the Sires’ Stakes Final for the two-year-olds.

The Jewels leader in the Emerald, Spankem enjoyed a nice trip just off the speed before unleashing to win effortlessly.

“He deserved that big one,” Purdon said after the race.

“And with that run he was always going to be very hard to beat I thought.

“He’s quite an exceptional horse.”

Spankem is owned by the same connections who enjoyed the win of The Devil’s Own in last week’s Yearling Sales Series Final, capping a big week for the group who will now look forward to the Jewels with both horses.


Matt Markham


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