First emergency De Little Engine has gained a start in the 2016 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday after connections of kiwi raider Fanatic were forced to scratch the talented mare.
Fanatic has been something of an enigma for Te Awamatu trainers Graeme Sanders and Debbie Sweeney through her short racing career so far, but announced herself to the broader New Zealand and Australian racing community when victorious in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) in March.
Sweeney told Racing Victoria that the mare appears to have suffered a nasty spider bite, forcing an end to her light-weight claims on the Caulfield Cup 2016.
“Dad (Sanders) rang me and they seem to think the mare has been bitten by a spider – there’s a puncture wound there and her leg was swollen and tender,” Sweeney said.
“Just in case, she has been scanned bit nothing else has showed up. It’s the last thing you would ever expect to happen.”
Fanatic has posted two wins and as many minors through fourteen career starts to date and was last seen finishing ninth in the Group 1 Horlicks Plate (1600m) at Hastings on September 17th.
De Little Engine’s confirmation in the 2016 Caulfield Cup field means that Ben E. Thompson will make his debut appearance in the major Spring Carnival feature and the apprentice hoop is thrilled to be given the opportunity.
“I was riding in the jumpouts at Seymour and one of the barrier boys said to me my horse got a start in the Caulfield Cup,” Thompson said.
“I thought he was geeing me up, I said don’t muck around and make jokes about something like that.
“He laughed and said ‘No, Fanatic has been scratched and De Little Engine is now in the field’.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m still pinching myself.
“His run in the Turnbull Stakes was very strong, his closing sectionals were impressive and I liked the way he worked this week.
“I always do my form with my Dad and that won’t change. I’ve got to ride at Moe on Thursday and then Cranbourne Friday night so that will keep me busy.”
De Little Engine carries a commendable record of seven wins and nine minors from thirty-six starts into the Caulfield Cup 2016.
Resuming this time for eighth in the Catanach’s Jewellers Handicap (1400m) on August 27th, the Encosta De Lago gelding has since finished sixth in the Spring Is The Season Handicap (1700m) and seventh in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
De Little Engine is currently available at 2016 Caulfield Cup odds of $61 with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.