IT is 24 years since the Inter Dominion “King” Brian Hancock won the last of his six pacing finals, but his genius lives on through trainer Shannon Price and her young star Speak The Truth at this Brisbane series.
Price, like so many others, watched and learned from Hancock through his rampaging Inter Dominion splurge in the 1980s and ‘90s, most notably with Our Sir Vancelot’s historic three-peat of pacing finals in 1997-99.
“I spent some time with Brian and remembered he used to take his horses into the series fresh, with plenty to build on, so I decided to try that with Speak The Truth after he’d had a long year,” she said.
“I didn’t race him between the Eureka (September 2) and the first round of heats here (December 1), but I did get plenty of foundation work into him at home.
“Some said it was a gamble, but so far it’s paying off.”
Speak The Truth smashed the clock from a mile back despite only finishing seventh on opening night, then drew well, led and upstaged some big guns, headed by NZ Cup hero Swayzee, in his second Inter Dominion heat on Tuesday night.
“Adam (Sanderson, driver) said it’s the best he’s ever felt and everything I’ve seen from him says he’s better now than ever,” Price said.
“Just as importantly, I put him out in the paddock after the win (Tuesday night) and he was galloping around, kicking and bucking. They are great signs. He’s obviously feeling good as he gets ready for his third run in eight days.
“He’s drawn well again Saturday night, too. Adam thinks he’s a great stayer, so even though he’s never run over the 2680m, we think it will really suit him.”
Price, who trains at Alberton in between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, admits her Inter Dominions have soared since the series started.
“We tossed around for a while whether to run him because he’s had a long season and will get better with time, but it was in our own backyard and we thought we could scratch him if it all got too much for him,” she said.
“But he’s thrived and Tuesday night he showed he can run with the best of them, so we’re hoping to make the final and who knows what can happen from there, especially if he draws well.”
Like most Queensland pacers, Speak The Truth has lived in the daunting shadow of the state’s pin-up pacers Leap To Fame. They’ve clashed five times and it’s five-zip to Leap To Fame.
Shannon Price (red jacket) with Speak The Truth.
“He’s a great horse, but we’ve only drawn better than him once and we still couldn’t settle in front of him,” Price said.
“My guy was only 0.1sec outside Leap To Fame’s track record winning on Tuesday night and I think it shows all the best horses, like Leap To Fame, Swayzee and my guy, can run similar times in front on the pegs.
“It’s going to make the barrier draw (on Monday) so important for the final if they all get through this last round of heats well.”
Speak The Truth is $2.70 second favourite behind Nerano (gate one, $2.15) for Saturday night’s heat, while Swayzee ($1.25) and Leap To Fame ($1.20) stifle betting in the other two heats.