New Zealand’s representatives were to the fore on the first night of the Inter Dominion Series in Victoria on Saturday night, winning three of the five heats across both divisions.
Wins from Spankem and Cruz Bromac gave New Zealand’s tiny pacing contingent the perfect start to the Inter Dominion pacing series while Speeding Spur was never troubled winning his first heat in the first trotters’ series since 2012.
Both Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained pacers scored impressive heat wins, in vastly different fashions.
And Pat’s Delight finished second behind Spankem in the first heat of the pacing series for trainer Cran Dalgety, which meant the New Zealand team scored the highest amount of points available to them on night one.
Spankem proved too tough after sitting parked for the last lap of a stop-start affair, getting the upper hand over leader My Alpha Rock while classy pacer Tiger Tara flashed up for third after getting back in the running.
Rasmussen is expecting an even betting version of the four-year-old to be seen later in the series.
“I just know he is a little chubby, so the run will do him good,” she said in a television interview.
“He is a little bit of an underrated little guy. He has been off the scene and he is a fair little horse.
“He can stay a bit and he has got a bit of speed, so whatever presents itself he can put himself in to the race.”
Cruz Bromac did as punters expected him to in heat three of the pacing series. He led and won and with Rasmussen in the sulky.
“It was a nice confidence builder,” Rasmussen said.
“He seemed really happy out there. He seems to have pulled up fantastic, as well.”
Cruz Bromac was clearly the better fancied of the Purdon-Rasmussen duo going in to the Inter Dominions, however Rasmussen said she thinks there is not a lot between he and Spankem.
“I wouldn’t think there is much between them, I think it would come down to which of mine got the better trip would be beating the other one home.”
Former Southland pacer Galactic Star won the second heat of the pacing series, which did not feature any New Zealand-trained horses.
However, the horse contributed to New Zealand bred horses completing an epic feat on night one of the Inter Dominions.
New Zealand-breds won every heat of the trotting and pacing series on night one at Melton.
Speeding Spur announced he had returned to Victoria in emphatic style with a crushing win.
The New Zealand trotter of the year led easily off the mobile arm and driver Josh Dickie was allowed to set terms to suit.
It meant Speeding Spur got through his first round heat by winning and without being overtaxed.
“It worked out really good to be fair,” Dickie said.
“I was able to get a soft lead; we didn’t want to have a gut-buster or anything, and it panned out really well.
“He has run a half in 56.2sec, you have got to do that sort of thing to be good enough to win, so we are pretty happy.”
Dickie poured on the pressure with a 27.9sec second last 400m, which Speeding Spur’s rivals gasping for air.
Team Dickie’s next task is to get Speeding Spur through Saturday night’s run in top order, so he can again show Victorians his best in round two at Ballarat on Tuesday.
“There is only a couple of days, it is a great old school Inter Dominion series.
“We have got to manage him to get him through to the next heat and then there is another heat after that.
“We are confident he is going to handle the heats really well.”
The series continues at Ballarat tonight.