By Michael Guerin – NZ Herald
Two of Alexandra Park’s long lost sons could dominate the open class features at tonight’s premier meeting but that may have to do that the hard way.
Sundees Son (R4, No.6) and Spankem (R7, No.8) share the quite incredible record of both having not raced at Alexandra Park since May 3 last year when they each won Group One races.
When Sundees Son blew away his Rowe Cup trotting rivals that night and Spankem held Turn It Up at bay in the Messenger it would seem extremely unlikely neither would return to Alexandra Park until tonight.
But soreness issues which flared up for both during Cup week in Christchurch last year saw them sidelined for much of last season.
They have come back as good as ever this season, in the case of Sundees Son maybe better, and their form line synergy continued when they were both able to win their first group ones in over a year on Show Day at Addington last month.
That suggests they are the horses to beat in their respective open class group races tonight but both are likely to get back in their fields, especially Spankem off his 30m handicap in the Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup.
Winning major races off a back mark at Alexandra Park is never easy but Spankem is aided by the fact it is a smallish field and there are no horses off the 20m mark so if he steps well he could tag on to the 10m horses without too many traffic concerns.
Trainer Mark Purdon was thrilled with how Spankem worked on Monday morning and while the likes of South Coast Arden, Tommy Lincoln, Check In and even Kango could contribute to a genuine tempo, over 2700m the back markers might still have too much class.
Spankem isn’t the sole standout of them though as Copy That has been enormous on his home track this season even if he has looked more vulnerable when asked to come wide on the track over the last lap.
The sectionals say he can be forgiven for his defeat last Friday but he will need to raise his game by a length or so tonight to suggest he is still in the top echelon of Auckland Cup hopes.
Thefixer, who was a booming last-start second to Spankem in the NZ Free-For-All and Ashley Locaz add to the depth of the backmarkers team.
While Sundees Son won’t be giving away a 30m start driver John Dunn is almost certain he will be spotting arch rival Majestic Man a decent start early in the Lonestar Lyell Creek.
The 2200m mobile will be Sundees Son’s first start behind the mobile in over a season and while he has drawn inside Majestic Man, Dunn says he will take it easy and settle the favourite early.
“I don’t like to bustle him so Majestic Man looks the leader but we have shown we can sit parked outside him and beat him,” says Dunn.
While he has won only 3 of 10 starts at Alexandra Park many of those defeats were as an erratic younger horse whereas he has been stronger and safer for much of this season.
“The way he is trotting I don’t think right-handed will bother him, after all he has won two huge races here before,” says Dunn.
“So the track doesn’t concern me and he has been working at the beach up here, like he does at home, and that is a real advantage.”
While the best horses in the race having to come from back suggest some real fireworks in the open class races, the $95,000 Queen Of Hearts might be the opposite with Amazing Dream likely to lead and win.
That could make Enchantee a great place or even quinella bet as she has drawn barrier two and the only mare on the second line Smokinhotcheddar is on the unruly so there should be a huge gap for Enchantee early trail the favourite is Amazing Dream holds that lead.
The clash of the three-year-old boys in the Alabar Classic is a beauty with early tempo the key while La Rosa comes north to take on Bettor Twist, with their lead battle crucial in their outcome.