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A pacer making waves in Australian harness racing circles has some keenly interested fans in Dunedin.
Spirit of St Louis, a 5yr-old gelding, completed a remarkable start to the year with a stunning win in the group 1 Ballarat Cup at the weekend.
It followed his wins in the Shepparton and Bendigo Cups for the powerful McCarthy stable.
The horse’s owners include five Dunedin racing fans: Tony Gow, Steve Pulley, Ray Chalklin, Edward Corby and original trainer Graeme Anderson.
Spirit of St Louis, by Sweet Lou out of Spirit of Art, had his first win at Gore in August 2019, won four of his first five starts, had eight wins from 12 races as a 3yr-old, and was sent to the Menangle stables as a 4yr-old.
Gow said watching the horse win $70,000 (Bendigo), $60,000 (Shepparton) and $110,000 (Ballarat) races on the trot was a thrill for the owners.
"He’s just grown another leg," he said yesterday.
"We sent him there hoping that that sort of training and those tracks would be good for him. The McCarthys just do a wonderful job."
Spirit of St Louis held out quick starter Max Delight early in the Ballarat Cup, overpowered top hopes Lochinvar Art and Expensive Ego halfway down the straight, and held off champion Kiwi mare Amazing Dream.
"He’s got sheer speed, and he can shut down as well as sprint again," Gow said.
"They can put him to sleep mid-race and he just pops back up and goes again. A lot of horses can’t sprint twice, but he can."
Spirit Of St Louis effectively beat three of the top four horses in Australia when he roared home to win at Ballarat, Gow said.
He teamed with a rising star of the driving world, 20-year-old reinsman Jack Callaghan.
"He is amazing," Gow said.
"I just said to someone before that he looks like Dexter Dunn. He’s got those good hands, and he doesn’t panic."
Following the horse meant some late nights watching Australian racing but it was worth it, Gow said.
He was unsure if the pacer would race in New Zealand again as there was so much on offer in Australia.
Next up for Spirit of St Louis is the A.G. Hunter Cup, the ultimate prize in Victoria pacing, on February 5.