In his first race at 3200 metres earlier this month, Queensland stayer Spechenka showed he appreciates the long trip with a dominant win in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup.
The win confirmed what trainer Ben Ahrens already knew, the six-year-old gelding is a genuine stayer.
Unfortunately for Ahrens and his stable star, there are limited 3200-metre options in Australian racing, with the prestigious $6.2 million Melbourne Cup one of the few spring races at the distance.
Ahrens took Spechenka south in an attempt to qualify for the holy grail of staying events last year but the son of Danachenka struggled in shorter lead-up events.
Last year’s expedition, where Spechenka finished a best of seventh from five starts south of the Queensland border, has the Beaudesert trainer in a more conservative frame of mind about this spring’s hopes.
“At this stage we’re not aiming too high with him, it’s hard to get down the order of entry,” Ahrens said.
“If we were going to aim for anything it’d probably be the Melbourne Cup but with all the European horses coming across it’s very hard to gain a start.”
Ahrens highlighted the difficulty of taking on elite-level horses at shorter distances as the reason for not immediately launching into a Melbourne spring campaign.
“When we took him down last year that was the aim [Melbourne Cup] but he found it too tough against that competition in the 2000 and 2400-metre races,” he said.
Instead of immediately chasing the southern riches, the experienced gelding will resume in Brisbane after a short break before potential targets are considered.
“He’ll have a short rest now, then we’ll bring him back through Brisbane,” Ahrens said.
“We’ll start off locally and then probably look to take him down for a Listed level race in Sydney and if he’s good enough to get through that we’ll see where we go from there.”
From 46 career starts, the Beaudesert-based Spechenka has won 12 times and collected more than $500,000 in prize money.