Title chasers Spare Parts and Captain Lars to bid for eighth win at Lingfield
Racegoers at Lingfield on Saturday can enjoy seeing the protagonists in the extraordinary battle to be crowned the all-weather's winningmost horse title within 35 minutes of one another when Spare Parts and Captain Lars run in consecutive races.
The story is unlikely to be over then either, whatever the results, because Spare Parts, who recorded a seventh win of the campaign in really gutsy fashion at Kempton on Wednesday night, will have two more opportunities before the battle finishes at close of play on Good Friday, while Captain Lars, who is also on seven, will also have another entry.
Indeed the competition, which carries a £10,000 prize but more importantly has provided great kudos for both trainers as well as entertainment for all-weather fans, looks set to go right to the wire. The two horses are likely to be racing within ten minutes of one another on Good Friday – albeit 327 miles apart.
Spare Parts was rated 49 when owner Steve Jakes picked him up for 2,000gns and placed him with Phil McEntee. Wednesday's win came off 85, and with a penalty he will race off 91 in Saturday's mile handicap.
McEntee said: "I've never known a horse like him. He's unbelievable. We got home about 10.30pm on Wednesday and he was licking his manger clean, before I'd even got a rug on him. If he didn't eat like that we couldn't campaign him like this, but he loves his food, he loves his time out in the paddock, and he loves his racing.
"He's got such guts too, and near the end of seven furlongs at Kempton he just changed his lead and went away again a little bit, which gives me hope for Saturday's mile at Lingfield. If he wins there he'll definitely get in the apprentice handicap on Good Friday as he'll have a double penalty. If he doesn't, he could go to Southwell on Tuesday, but we'll wait if it looks from Sunday's entries as if we will get in on Good Friday anyway."
Whereas Spare Parts has gained all of his seven wins in handicaps, five of Captain Lars's victories have come in sellers and claimers, the first three of them for Derek Shaw, from whom Archie Watson claimed him for £7,000 in February. The former South Africa and Meydan campaigner, whose latest win came in a seller at Southwell last week, has nevertheless earned more this winter.
Watson said: "I've been amazed by what Spare Parts has achieved and Phil and his team have done a fantastic job. We didn't realise until we had won two with Captain Lars that he was in the running for the prize, but he's won seven as well now and it was always the plan to end up on Good Friday at Newcastle. He'll be in a 0-85 handicap at 1.40, and that's ten minutes after Spare Parts will be running at Lingfield if he gets in.
"In the meantime he'll run on Saturday at Lingfield, and if neither horse wins there then placings will be important, because at present they both have two seconds and two thirds to their names, but Spare Parts also has a fourth. But whatever the outcome, it's been great sport."
Countback in the event of a tie will include fourth places, so on current standings Spare Parts is back in pole position. However, a week is a long time in the lives of Spare Parts and Captain Lars.
How they measure up
Multiple winner in South Africa who ran twice unplaced at the Dubai International Carnival at Meydan in 2015 before spells with Ken Cunningham-Brown, Michael Bell, Derek Shaw and finally Archie Watson. Shaw, for whom he won three times this winter, originally claimed him for £5,000. Watson claimed him in February for £7,000. Although campaigned over 5f and 6f nowadays, he has won at up to 1m1f. His current official mark is 84.
Finished second at Ffos Las from 11 starts before being bought by Steve Jakes for 2,000gns at Tattersalls. He was rated 49 at the time but won off 85 on Wednesday and will be pushing 90 when reassessed. All wins at 6f and 7f but placed at a mile.
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