War of Words Ahead of Nullarbor

18 April 2024 | Adam Hamilton
Spirit Of St Louis & Jack Callaghan

Spirit Of St Louis & Jack Callaghan Photo by Stuart McCormick

IF the war of words is true, the sparks will really fly in tomorrow night's $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor at Gloucester Park.

The connections of star NSW raiders Spirit Of St Louis and Hot And Treacherous have declared aggressive tactics and taken aim at each other as Australia's second-richest pacing race draws closer.

It is ironic given the same combatants – young gun drivers Jack Callaghan and Cam Hart – filled the quinella in a meekly run inaugural Nullarbor last year when Callaghan surrendered the lead on Spirit Of St Louis to Hart aboard eventual winner Betterzippit.

"There's no lead for Cam this year," Callaghan declared. 

"Spirit Of St Louis is going a lot better this year than it was 12 months ago, and I've got a much better draw (gate one compared to eight). I want to hold the lead."

"We've had a much better build-up, and you have to take advantage of a draw like this around a track like Gloucester Park."

Callaghan even dared to question Hot And Treacherous' credentials and favouritism.

"I think he's over-hyped," he declared. 

"Every time he's been at the top level, he's been found wanting except the Blacks A Fake (last July) when he had a perfect run and ran third.

"Even since moving to Grimmo's stable (Jason Grimson), he hasn't shown anything to say he's a star."

Grimson, who trained Betterzippit to win last year, hit back at Callaghan with a clear warning.

"If they want to hold the lead with Spirit Of St Louis, we'll be pouring on the pressure outside him with Hot And Treacherous, and he will stop before our horses do," he said.

Callaghan and Hart are great mates but fierce rivals on the track, and that could be on full display tomorrow.

There is also a belief among WA form analysts that talented local Lavra Joe could spring a surprise, blast out and cross Spirit Of St Louis.

But Spirit Of St Louis' trainer Luke McCarthy will be surprised if anything has the speed to do that.

"Well, 'Louis' he crossed them out in (barrier) eight last year, so they'll want to be fast to cross him from the pole this time. He's very quick out," he said.

If Spirit Of St Louis is in front, the shuffle outside him will become critical, with Hot And Treacherous likely to be first there, but a tough stayer like Minstrel will almost certainly want to get into the action and outside the leader before too long.

It seems increasingly unlikely Catch A Wave, who blasted to the front to win a Miracle Mile, will try to do the same from gate four this time.

Driver Kate Gath is more likely to look for a seat in the running line, hoping the sparks do fly early, and back Catch A Wave's brilliant when driven quietly to put him right in the finish.

"We couldn't be happier with him," Gath said. 

"He ran well last week, has thrived since and always goes better when he backs up a week later."

Gary Hall Jr, on Never Ending, is the lone back row runner and will want Spirit Of St Louis to hold the front so he can try to follow him through, trail him and look for a gap to dive bomb late.

"It's a perfect draw for him at this stage of his career with his high speed."

"We get to follow a helmet immediately, and whether that's behind the leader or three pegs, he'll be flying home if he sees daylight at the right time."

·      Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp.

$2.65 Hot And Treacherous
$5 Spirit Of St Louis, Catch A Wave
$6.50 Minstrel
$8.50 Never Ending
$14 Lavra Joe
$17 Jumpingjackmac
$18 Mighty Ronaldo
$41 Swingband
$126 Blitzembye
Odds: TABtouch

4. Catch A Wave
1. Spirit Of St Louis
10. Never Ending
3. Hot And Treacherous


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