Spartan Army ready to do battle with the big boys

 In Latest News

March 4

February seemed never ending, not just because of the awful weather but also for those poor souls, Alan and I included, who battled through a ‘dry’ 29-day Leap Year month to give us livers a welcome break.

However, while the ground on most turf courses this winter has been testing at best, happily Spartan Army gave Barbury the perfect start to March when completing a hat-trick on the all-weather in the two-mile handicap at Lingfield on St David’s Day.

Spartan Army has been one of our equine team who have benefited enormously from Alan changing his work mornings, so that the horses go up the Sharp Ridge all-weather gallop three times rather than the twice which had been the regular schedule up until the New Year.

Though twice successful over hurdles after being bought last autumn for 170,000gns out of Joseph O’Brien’s stable, Spartan Army, who thrives for being asked a question in the mornings, was gaining his third victory on an artificial surface, and his team of owners were encouraged by the fact that he appeared to win at Lingfield with plenty in hand.

However, bigger fish now lie in wait for Spartan Army, who will now be pitched in against the big boys in the £150,000 All-Weather Championship Marathon at Newcastle on Good Friday.

Alan said:”Spartan Army has always worked like a good horse at home, but only now is he starting to show us in the afternoons what he has been doing in the mornings.”

Spartan Army had only won at Southwell  a week earlier, and, while it is not Alan’s style to pull out a horse so quickly, he had no option as the gelding needed a third run to qualify for a place in the big staying race on All-Weather Championship finals day.

However, Alan is adamant that Spartan Army strikes him as “more than an all-weather horse”. He added:”Now that we have found the key to him, then I think that he’ll be a good horse on turf, too, though we won’t be seeing him back over hurdles until the autumn.”

We always have to expect to be brought brought down to earth as soon as we get a cause for celebration, and sadly things did not go rght for Grandeur d’Ame in the Greatwood Gold Cup, last Saturday’s Newbury feature. He was reported to have bled, so at least we have a reason for his disappointing run.

However, there was plenty to like about the second places of Geturguccion at Newbury and Ernest Gray at Doncaster, so, though we have no runners until the week-end, with most of our team preferring a decent surface rather than a mudbath, we are all looking forward excitedly to next week’s Cheltenham Festival, for which Alan hope to have “a small but select squad”