Day At The Track

Group 1 stars return

08:53 AM 26 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Pukekohe horseman Brent Mangos
Brent Mangos trainer of Maxim
Duane Ranger photo

When Speeding Spur and Maxim make their comebacks at Alexandra Park tonight they will both have group one winning performances in their recent formline.

The problem is for Speeding Spur that form was 10 months ago, for Maxim it was over three years ago.

The two best horses at the first Alexandra Park meeting of the year come with unusual comeback stories, particularly Maxim.

The exciting pacer actually won three starts ago but that was the 2014 Victoria Derby at Melton, beating his stablemate Sky Major.

It finished third in Tiger Tara’s Northern Derby a month later and trainer Barry Purdon was adamant he would be an open class force until he broke down soon after.

Three years and plenty of patience later he returns in the last race tonight for new trainer-driver Brent Mangos.

"Barry sent him here so he could be swum almost every day and apart from the two days a week he hopples that is all he does,” says Mangos.

"He is a good horse and he is fit but of course he isn’t race hard after this long away.

"I think we have found the right race for him to return in and I wouldn’t be stunned if he won but we all know how hard it will be for him.

"But he is sound and it is great to have him back.”While Maxim wins comeback story of the night, Speeding Spur’s return is also a surprise as trainer John Dickie had originally thought the injured star would be out until the autumn.

Speeding Spur won the Great Southern Star at Melton last March but damaged a leg when chasing Monbet home in the Anzac Cup last April, being sidelined since.

“We were going to miss all the summer races but he is very well and has done a lot of work so we are using this as a trial for the Great Southern Star next week,” says Dickie.

“If he performs how we want tonight he will be going back to Melton next week.”

Driver Josh Dickie says the 55m handicap facing Speeding Spur is not insurmountable but their chances may be determined by the tempo of the race.

“He can win but if they run hard in front he isn’t ready to take off and go hard all the way so I think the punters should be careful because it could be out of our hands,” says Josh.

Michael Guerin

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