By Jonny Turner
Spankem’s dished up a powerful reminder of his status as the country’s leading short-course pacer when calling on his sensational speed to win the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington on Friday.
The first 100m of the 1980m group 1 feature proved as vital as its last furlong after driver Natalie Rasmussen made Spankem’s rivals pay when controlling the race in front.
Rasmussen used the All Stars’ pacer’s speed to cross to the lead early, which proved the key to her six-year-old getting a deserved victory after having to settle for second behind his stablemate Self Assured in Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup.
Though his early burn was important Rasmussen said it was what happened immediately after Spankem crossed to the lead that set up his front-running win.
“He just dropped the bit, he is one that can get up on the chewy a bit,” the trainer-driver said.
“It was nice that he was able to drop the bit and relax and do his own thing and then starting picking up from the 1000m and start rolling.”
Though Rasmussen was clearly able to give Spankem a comfortable middle section of the New Zealand Free-For-All there was little respite for his rivals.
The six-year-old stopped the clock in 2-19.2 equating to a 1.53.1 milerate for 1980m
“He is fast, I think the 3200m just sees him out, but over the short trips he is pretty lethal.”
Self Assured clearly had Spankem’s measure over the 3200m of the New Zealand Cup, but there was no chance to compare the pair over 1980m under group 1 conditions after the former was scratched from yesterday’s race.
Rasmussen expects it to be a mighty clash when the pair meet in a similar race in the future.
“They are both so fast.”
“I do think Self Assured has everything, he is just so quick and he is so strong.”
“Spankem is quick and I would hate to see Self Assured try to sit outside him and beat him over a short trip.”
Spankem scored by three-lengths over Thefixer, who went the best race of his spring campaign when running into second from near the rear.
Ashley Locaz backed up his third in the New Zealand Cup with a strong third after sitting parked in Friday’s feature.
Rasmussen also used front-running tactics to win the listed Southern Mares’ Classic with Beyond Words.
In just her sixth start, the four-year-old handed a field of more experienced rivals defeat in the smart time of 2.21.6 for 1980m.
“She is really lightly raced, but she has got a bit of class, we actually quite like her,” Rasmussen said
Niggling problems prevented Beyond Words from getting to the track sooner than her debut in August.
The All Stars stable eventually got on top of what was troubling the mare in her work after she underwent a bone scan.
“She is a funny one, we could never work out what was worrying her,” Rasmussen said
“So we sent her up to get a bone scintigraphy [scan] because we always thought it was her knees.”
“And it turned out to be edima – bone bruising in her knees – from her maturing late.”
“So we just kept putting her out [for a spell] and putting her out.”
“This is actually her first actual go at being fit, so she has done a huge job to go from nothing to this.”
Beyond Words scored by a length over Spellbound, who followed her everywhere in Friday’s race.
Outsider Sagano again showed her competitiveness in mares’ races when running third.