By Jonny Turner
Plenty has gone wrong for star Otago pacer Spirit Of St Louis ahead of the season’s biggest race on his home track, Sunday’s Tuapeka Cup.
The Graeme Anderson and Mike Love trained four-year-old comes into the 2700m Forbury Park handicap after overcoming a throat infection which was discovered after his last start at Winton.
That diagnosis explained why Spirit Of St Louis produced a slightly disappointing effort for third when he could not go with the winner, Pembrook’s Playboy, after sitting on his back before the home turn.
Not long after the Westwood Beach flier got over his throat problem, he developed a hoof abscess.
That has left Anderson and Love in a race against time to get the four-year-old ready for the Tuapeka Cup and his big spring target, the group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes.
“He has had a few little setbacks, he had a sore foot the other day, so we had to put a pad on it,” Anderson said.
“We gave him a good hit-out on Friday, he missed a trial at Oamaru because of his foot.”
“It would have been nice to get that run into him.”
“He seems bright and happy, but a lack of racing at the moment is counting against him.”
“Everything about his demeanour is good, he seems healthy, so hopefully he is on the way back.”
The Anderson-Love stable have been able to give Spirit Of St Louis one quiet workout since his last race, which he won in sedate time.
Going into Sunday’s feature without having had a serious run in more than six weeks means driver Matthew Williamson could look to drive the four-year-old for one late finish from his 30m back mark.
That would play to Spirit Of St Louis’ biggest strength – his high speed.
But it could also leave the pacer relying on race tempo.
“There is only eight left in it, so he is not going to too far back,” Anderson said.
“It will depend on how he steps away and where he is with a lap to go.”
“If they walked around and they sprinted home in 26sec it will be hard to get over the top of them.”
“It will just depend on what happens on the day.”
Robyns Playboy also comes into his Tuapeka Cup defence after a slightly disappointing effort in his last start.
Like his fellow 30m backmarker, the Ross and Chris Wilson trained pacer could not hold the back of Pembrook Playboy after tracking him throughout in his last start Ascot Park.
Robyns Playboy produced excellent efforts in his two prior starts, running second in the Hannon Memorial after breaking the Ascot Park track record three starts ago.
Spirit Of St Louis and Robyns Playboy both concede a 10m headstart to Bettathanfast, who drops in class after racing in strong Addington company in Sunday’s race.
Memphis Tennessee looks the best of the front markers, after beating Robyns Playboy when running second to Pembrook Playboy in his last start at Ascot Park.
The Anderson-Love stable start five more horses at the Tuapeka meeting.
Who’s Smokin (race 7), Petrea Bromac (race 8) and Tres Chic (race 11) each look strong eachway chances.
Feelin Bettor has his first start for the trainers after his 12th from Michael Purdon’s stable at Oamaru, last weekend.
Anderson and Love also line up Bev’s K One, who ran fifth after receiving a nice run in her last start at Winton.