Spartan Army aims to make Good Friday a very special one for Barbury

 In Latest News

March 28

Alan celebrated Good Friday 12 months ago with a winner in the All-Weather Marathon, courtesy of veteran Rainbow Dreamer, and, while the 11-year-old is heading to Newcastle to defend his crown, the formbook suggests that Spartan Army, our other runner in the £150,000 race, is the logical number one for Barbury.

Spartan Army, unbeaten in three races on an artificial surface since the turn of the year, is less than half Rainbow Dreamer’s age, and Alan is very sweet on his chance.

The ante-post favourite, Spartan Army, who joined us from Joseph O’Brien 18 months ago, having been bought by Max McNeill’s family, together with Patrick and Scott Bryceland, has improved 11lb since being switched to the all-weather.

Assessing his prospects, Alan said:”Spartan Army is very much on the up, and he has been given a bit of a chance to recover from his last two wins, which were only six days apart.

“It is not my style running a horse so quickly again, but he needed that third run to qualify for this race and he seems in good order at home. Rossa Ryan, who has won twice on Spartan Army, has been claimed to ride Max Vega for Ralph Beckett, but David Probert is a more than able substitute, having won on the horse at Southwell.

“Spartan Army had a bit of an issue during the winter, but we have put that right, since when he has really come forward., so, while this is a stronger race and his mark has risen from 84 to 95, I still hope that he’ll run well.”

This will be Spartan Army’s first time at Newcastle, but the surface at Gosforth Park is tapeta, as it is at Southwell, so there are no worries on that score.

Win, lose or draw it will be an emotional farewell for Rainbow Dreamer, who has won 13 of his 53 races, including a couple over hurdles. However, he really took off when switching to the all-weather, with nine of those victories coming at Newcastle, Kempton, Wolverhampton or Southwell.

Alan said:”Rainbow Dreamer has been a legend for us, We’ve had him since he was a two-year-old and he cost just 6,000gns at the Breeze-Up Sale. His earnings are now close on £300,000, so, like all of ours, we will make sure that he has a good home to go to when he retires.”

The switch from a visor to blinkers looked to make all the difference to Two Past Eight at Kempton on Wednesday. He was an excellent second and might well have won had he not been forced to switch when taking a bump entering the final furlong,

We have just the one runner on Easter Saturday, Tritonic being Alan’s first runner at Musselburgh when he takes his chance in the £100,000 Virgin Bet Queen’s Cup.

Alan said:”Tritonic won over fences at Wincanton in November, and we were probably guilty of overfacing him next time at Cheltenham, where the testing ground over two miles and five proved too much. He has since enjoyed a good winter break, and, though he can also boast some smart Flat form,  he is 3lb lower than when finishing third in last year’s Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting.”