The Ben Ahrens-trained Beaudesert galloper Spechenka will vie for an off-season Cups double with Grafton next on the cards for last Saturday’s gallant Caloundra Cup champion.
A rising six-year-old, Danachenka gelding Spechenka has had an injury-marred career, but last Saturday rewarded the patience of his trainer Ahrens with an upset win in the $200,000 Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m).
Going out as a $12 outsider in the markets, Spechenka and jockey Ryan Wiggins were able to come from last to first in the field and hold on in a thrilling finish to narrowly defeat last start Ipswich Cup winner Gold In Dubai ($8) by a short-neck while $4.80 favourite and last year’s Caloundra Cup runner-up Tinseltown was just a further head away third.
“Ryan rode him real well, patient and didn’t expose him,” Ahrens said of the winning ride from Wiggins.
“I was a bit worried when he went back to the inside but he rode him really well.”
Now Ahrens, 32, plans to back Spechenka up in Thursday week’s $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) as the stayer prepares to add a 12th win to their career and another at stakes level after their Group 3 Summer Cup success at Randwick last December.
The Caloundra Cup – Grafton Cup double would more than atone for the lost Brisbane Cup target that Spechenka’s unfortunate winter campaign saw them miss.
“He’s had so many setbacks and we had to keep changing course with him,” Ahrens said.
“The Brisbane Cup was the aim but we thought the Caloundra Cup would be a good consolation.
“Thankfully we preserved.
“We were close to pulling the pin on numerous occasions.
“We thought we’d take a punt and continue.
“Thank God we did.”
Originally following the Caloundra Cup Ahrens planned to head towards this Saturday’s $150,000 Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) at Eagle Farm.
After further consideration, however, he believes the Grafton Cup over a shorter 2350 metres the following Thursday will be more suitable for Spechenka who has gone through everything from a wrenched fetlock, blood abnormalities and cuts to his pastern suffered from a kick by another horse.
“We were planning for the Queensland Cup but with all the problems he’s had he wouldn’t be right for 3200 metres,” Ahrens explained.
“He spends a lot of time on the walker, works hard on the track and swims.
“He’s got a great constitution.”
Spechenka, despite his notorious bad manners when training inside the yard, has been an excellent horse for connections earning over $372,000 in prize money to date.
“I’m very lucky to have a horse like him in the stable,” Ahrens said.
Caloundra Cup runner-up Gold In Dubai is also likely to back up in the Grafton Cup and attempt to turn the tables on their conqueror Spechenka.
“We weren’t sure about 2400 metres,” Gold In Dubai’s Mornington-based trainer Mark Riley said after the Caloundra Cup.
“Now we know he runs it.
“If he pulls up OK, we will go to Grafton.
“He was very gallant in defeat.
“It’s just a shame they had that little bit of rain here.
“Without that, who knows, maybe he skips away a bit on the turn.”