Beaudesert horseman Ben Ahrens has gone back to his original end-of-season plans with talented galloper Spechenka, the last-start Caloundra Cup champion bypassing this Saturday’s Queensland Cup at Eagle Farm in favour of a run in the Northern River’s showpiece – the Grafton Cup.
One of the headline races of the XXXX Gold July Carnival, which kicks off today with the Clarence River Jockey Club’s Grafton Cup Prelude Day, the $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) runs next Thursday and is now back on the cards for Danachenka five-year-old Spechenka.
A dual stakes winner having won the Group 3 Summer Cup (2400m) at Randwick on Boxing Day last year as well as last Saturday’s Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m), Spechenka was a surprise nominee for the Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) running this weekend.
Ahrens, however, decided not to accept his in-form galloper for the esteemed two-mile feature choosing instead to go for Grafton Cup glory next weekend.
The Queensland Cup entry was made as a provisional only, Ahrens stating that there was nothing amiss with Spechenka but that he believed stepping the horse up to 3200m would be too big a challenge.
“He’s pulled up okay but I was only going to start him in the Queensland Cup if he was jumping out of his skin,” Ahrens said.
“He’s fine and there’s no issues with him this time.”
The trainer admitted that the Queensland Cup showdown was an attractive option with the 17-horse final field for the $150,000 feature looking of a relatively low class, but that Spechenka’s best interest and not his own had to come first.
“The field doesn’t look overly strong and it was tempting to run him but I’m sticking to my original plan for the Grafton Cup even though it will be a lot harder race (to win).
“It’s a better fit for him at this stage of his campaign.”
Emerging as a genuine Group stayer with his successful Randwick raid in last year’s Summer Cup, Spechenka suffered a number of setbacks earlier this year that forced Ahrens to shelve plans of a Brisbane Cup campaign.
“We’ve just been that far behind all this preparation with one thing after another,” Ahrens admitted.
“He wrenched his fetlock, had a blood abnormality and then he cut his pastern and was kicked by another horse which required stitches to his hock.
“We had to keep changing course with him but thankfully we persevered.”
He is confident now, however, that Spechenka is back to full fitness after they defeated Ipswich Cup winner Gold In Dubai and Michael Moroney’s Group 1 runner Tinseltown, topweight for Saturday’s Queensland Cup, in the Caloundra Cup.
This year’s Grafton Cup is shaping up as a strong affair with the likes of John Everson’s Argentinean import Storm Fabulador among the likely acceptors.