Northam Hopes Tamworth Country Championships Suits Spiranac To A Tee

By Ray Hickson

Spiranac is the humble Scone mare named after a social media superstar and trainer Rod Northam is confident she can do her namesake justice in Sunday’s Newhaven Park Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Tamworth.

When Paige Spiranac, a former American professional golfer with over 395,000 followers on Twitter, discovered a Sky Racing video of Northam and the mare prior to her last run at Randwick she threw her support behind the horse tweeting ‘I’ve never been more honored in my life’ to have a racehorse named after her.

The video has had more than 141,000 views. Unfortunately the four-year-old, who cost just $24,000, was outclassed in the Group 3 event but she’s right back in her comfort zone in Sunday’s $150,000 country feature.

Northam explained some of the owners, who are revelling in some unexpected international exposure, are golf fanatics and given Spiranac’s mother is a horse called Makemeasupermodel the name was a no-brainer.

“It’s really cool, the guys who named her are a bunch of mates of mine who have a punters club,’’ Northam said.

“They’re mad golfers and they came up with the name. They said 'we’ll see if we can get her out to Australia if she ends up winning a Group 1'.

“I think they had been hounding her a little bit on Twitter until they got a reply. It’s a bit of fun.”

A Group 1 is probably a way off for Spiranac at this point so Paige won't need to pack her bags just yet but Northam is expecting she'll have something to cheer for come Sunday's race.

While Spiranac, the horse, failed to beat a runner home behind Tailleur in the Triscay Stakes (1200m) on February 13 Northam said he wasn’t disappointed with the effort and the run has her spot on for what will be a tough Qualifier to win.

Prior to the Triscay she won at Gosford and holds a comfortable decision over Mid North Coast Qualifier winner Charmmebaby from a race at Taree back in August.

“Everything has gone to plan to have her running in it third-up,’’ Northam said.

“Her work has been good, I couldn’t be happier with her, it looks like we are going to get a dry track so that will suit her and we just need a nice barrier.

“She’d been going well leading into Randwick and I just think she didn’t handle the track, Kathy (O’Hara) said she travelled into it like she was going to do something on the turn and then just didn’t really let down in the shifty going.

“She felt like there was another gear but she couldn’t let down. I said to the owners if we get beaten five or six lengths we’d be happy and we got beaten six.

“A few people might have dropped off her a little bit but I definitely wasn’t disappointed.”

Spiranac has only had the 10 starts, for four wins, and Northam is adamant the best is yet to come.

He knows as well as anyone what it takes to be competitive in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick having finished third in the inaugural running in 2015 with Voodoo Lad, who won the Qualifier at Tamworth that year, and second in 2017 with After All That.

And it’s worth noting that Northam’s apprentice Reece Jones, who will ride her on Sunday, has been on the mare’s back five times for four wins and a second.

“He’s going really well and his record on the mare is pretty good,’’ Northam said.

“He rides her all her work and I couldn’t put up with him kicking the walls if I didn’t put him on.

“I don’t want to be too confident but I’m really happy with where she is at. She’s still not foolproof, she’s still learning a bit and she’s going to get better as she gets older.

“Her last bit of work was super and she pulled up well so fingers crossed nothing goes wrong between now and then.”

The winner and runner-up earn the right to contest the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final on April 3, Spiranac is a $26 chance in TAB’s all-in market.