Trainer Bob Richard said he could not be happier with Spartan Eagle ahead of the 2013 $200,000 Darwin Cup (2000m) at Fannie Bay next Monday.
Spartan Eagle picked up the biggest win of his racing career with a dominant six length victory against a quality field in the Metric Mile (1600m) and is now a clear favourite for the Northern Territory’s biggest race.
Richard told Racing HQ that he was confident Spartan Eagle would run well on Saturday but said he could not believe just how impressive the victory was.
“I thought he was going to run a good race because he carried his form Adelaide but I didn’t think he was going to win like that,” Richard said on Sky Racing Radio.
“Some of them are pretty handy horses and there are only a couple of more to come in it so we are pretty confident right now.”
Spartan Eagle has been brilliant since returning to Darwin in June and has now recorded four straight victories by a total of thirteen and a half lengths.
Richard said the plan was always to run the rising six-year-old in the Metric Mile but he admitted that the Darwin Cup was never really on his agenda.
“His aim was never to be in the Cup,” the colourful trainer said.
“I wanted to just have those three races and take him back to Adelaide.
“I had to nominate him because they wouldn’t let me in the pub anymore.
“It is history now, he is in and he is favourite.”
Spartan Eagle has clearly come a long way since he began his career with a sixth place finish in a maiden at Strathalbyn.
It took the difficult gelding seven starts to break his maiden and he had two different trainers in two years before he ended up in the care of Richard.
The Darwin-based trainer said there were a number of problems with the horse when he first joined his stable but believes he has turned into a different horse since arriving in the Top End.
“He loves it up here,” Richard said.
“He was a very nervous sort of a horse, he use to shy at everything.
“Now he is a racehorse, he is very quiet and handles everything very good (sic).”
While Richard had to be forced to nominate Spartan Eagle for the Darwin Cup, there is no question that he would dearly love to win the major race.
“All the old trainers up here always say that they would love to win a Darwin Cup,” he said.
“The owners and I have been mates for years and we’ve stuck together so I am just happy for them at the moment.”
Spartan Eagle will face stiff competition in the Darwin Cup with two-time winner Hawks Bay, David Hayes-trained Extra Zero and successful stayer Thumbtacks all nominated to take part.