Bookies aren’t taking any chances with star trotter Speeding Spur in tomorrow’s Group 1 $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Free For All at Addington.
He’s a $1.65 shot and punters seem happy to lap that price up. One who isn’t, though, is Ross Paynter, the man who trains the second favourite, Lemond.
The proven short-course performer, who holds a national record over 2200-metres, has drawn the coveted ace barrier for the 1980-metre sprint trip.
That potentially gives his driver, Maurice McKendry, the advantage as to how the race pans out because Speeding Spur’s pilot, Joshua Dickie will no doubt be looking to go forward from gate four.
Paynter is leaving the race plans in the hands of McKendry, but says the horse is as good as he can have him in a tilt for further Group 1 glory after his Anzac Cup win last season.
“I’m pretty happy with him.
“He trailed up well at Addington last week and I’ve added a pole since then because he got in on me a bit.
“But his work since has been first class.”
Lemond galloped on the final bend at his last start, in Auckland 17 days ago, but Paynter says that run is best forgotten.
“Maurice said after the race that he felt like he had tied up a wee bit so we ran some bloods and his white cell count was out.
“Plus, he had pads on for that run which he doesn’t really like and we’ve taken them off again.”
It’s not Lemond’s first trip to the South Island, but Paynter wasn’t taking any chances with both the Free For All and Friday’s $300,000 Dominion Handicap on the line.
“I couldn’t be more happy with how he travelled down and settled in.
“I brought his paddock mate along for the trip just to make sure he was happy and it’s worked.”
The only factor left to consider is whether he can come off the arm quick enough to hold the lead, giving McKendry the choice on whether he hands up to Speeding Spur or posts him in the parked position.
“I’ll leave that call up to Maurice but I’d say it will all depend on how good he gets out, but I can’t see that being much of a problem.
“I think if you handed up to Speeding Spur, it’s a safe bet he wouldn’t hand the lead up to anyone else so that might be the best scenario.
“Charlie (Hunter, co-owner) will no doubt talk tactics with Maurice, but I’ll leave that up to them.”