Trainer John Dickie is full of honesty and hope heading into the $150,000 TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Final with Speeding Spur.
While the Kiwi trainer is honest enough to admit his almost millionaire trotter may have lost his sheer speed, he is also hopeful his stamina may snare him one of the most important races of Dickie’s career.
Dickie trains the now seven-year-old with his son Josh and after two wins in his three heats of the series Speeding Spur is the clear second favourite for the 2760m mobile at Melton on Saturday night.
He has the advantage of the ace and at his peak of two or three years ago would be a dominant favourite but that honour instead lies with Tornado Valley, who was unbeaten in his heats.
Dickie admits that is fair.
“On their form in this series Tornado Valley has looked the best horse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t beat him,” says Dickie.
“He is faster than us, which is how he beat us in the sprint heat at Ballarat last week.
“Our fella doesn’t have that sub-27 second quarter (400m) in him like he used to and that makes it hard to beat Tornado Valley.
“But the distance and the draw helps us. If we can hold the lead Josh (driver) will have options.”
The most logical of those would be making Tornado Valley work to get the lead and hope he gets fired up and leaves himself vulnerable at the end of a hard 2760m for Speeding Spur to grab him.
He used those tactics against another speedier rival in Enghien in the Rowe Cup last April, handing up in the middle stages when many would have expected Speeding Spur to stay in front.
After a long, brave career punctuated by at least two serious injuries Speeding Spur may simply not be as sharp as he used to be but he looks certain to get his shot on Saturday night if he is good enough.
“But to do that we have to hold the lead early, so that will be Josh’s first job.”
The Dickie family has been involved with elite level trotters for decades so the reinstatement of the trotting Inter Dominion after a six-year hiatus is a huge deal for them.
“To me the two biggest races in Australasia are the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominions.
“Sure I would like it to be worth more money but if we win on Saturday night that won’t bother us because I have wanted to win the Inter since I started training.”