Australian polocrosse representative Graeme Spackman has been around the racing game long enough to tell a yarn.
The one surrounding Costa Zip isn’t bad. It’d be a worthwhile chapter in this horseman’s memoirs.
“I like these stories, the one’s that happen for no good reason,” Spackman said on Tuesday. “I’m very fortunate to have this horse.”
A horse that opened the account for Spackman by landing some nice cash for connections when winning on Bong Bong Cup day back in November.
A horse that returns to Kembla Grange on Wednesday having won the past two on the South Coast track. Attacked the winning post in style on both occasions.
“He came to me five weeks before Bong Bong,” Spackman said.
“He had to be blind folded, had a stallion chain, I wondered what I had, he knocked himself around on the float.
“I thought I will not be able to load him, float him anywhere or lead him around.”
Then again “my family had horses all their life” and the 70-year-old adds “I’ve had them all my life”. So Spackman went to work on Costa Zip.
“Really, he is a big kid, if he was one, he’d be the type you’d want to sit on your lap and cuddle all day,” Spackman said.
“It is his demeanour, a nice horse to have around, eats everything, and goes onto the track and enjoys his work.”
Spackman has owner breeder Robert Dulhunty to thank. Costa Zip started off in Melbourne at the Flemington stables of Melbourne Cup winning trainer Michael Moroney.
“Mike gave him two runs and wasn’t very successful and decided he wasn’t going to be up to scratch down there,” Spackman said.
“The owner gave him a five or six week break and he came to me five weeks before the Bong Bong Cup meeting.”
Spackman had not met Dulhunty before but the bill payer had done his homework. He had mates in the Bong Bong districts, had them spread throughout the southern highlands.
Spackman had a reputation for firing on Bong Bong Picnic Cup day.
“I was a bit of an amateur jockey, used to ride a lot of trackwork there, it is a tough track, up and down hill,” Spackman said.
“The owner syndicated the horse with his mates for the day and they all backed him, they had a ball.
“Some had never been in a horse and are now ready to go into another one, it is a very interesting story.”
So Spackman has 12 boxes at Goulburn and “people want me to take more” but “I had my 70th birthday on the first of February, I’m no spring chicken”.
Now what about Costa Zip and jockey Brendan Ward making it three straight victories at Kembla Grange?
“I can’t have the horse much better than he is,” Spackman assured.
“If the horse handles a wet track and the wide barrier he’ll take some stitching.”
By Craig Young