Special win for Forbes family

Spancilhill (Ryan Elliot), the horse with a meaningful Irish connection, overcame greenness in the run home to record a top win at Ellerslie on Thursday evening.

Cambridge trainer Mark Forbes had good reason to be emotional after Spancilhill produced a huge effort to clear maiden ranks at Ellerslie on Thursday evening.

There’s a real family connection to Spancilhill, a four-year-old son of Showcasing, as he is raced by a group which includes Forbes, his wife, Lorraine, his mother Sheryl Forbes and his grandparents Gary and Caroline Tims and is named in honour of his wife’s grandfather.

“This win means a lot to the family,” Forbes said.

“Actually he’s named after my wife’s grandfather who has passed away. It’s where he was born.

“And my grandfather owns a share in him and he’s not very well so it’s great to get the win.”

Spancilhill is a hill and adjacent dispersed settlement in County Clare, Ireland. The historic hamlet is the home of Ireland’s oldest horse fair, which occurs annually on June 23.

The thoroughbred Spancilhill was bred by Windsor Park Stud and bought by Forbes at the 2016 Select Yearling Sale at Karaka for $52,500 to pinhook.

He was reoffered in his Kiltannon Stables draft at the 2016 Ready to Run sale at Karaka but didn’t reach his reserve.

Forbes, along with members of his family and a few friends, then formed the syndicate to race Spancilhill, who made his debut at Avondale last January after a couple of trials.

He showed talent in his second start, at Ruakaka last August, when finishing strongly for second behind Nulli Secundus over 1200m then reappeared a couple of months later when eighth after copping some early interference on the same track.

Spancilhill was an eye-catching seventh when running on late over 1400m at New Plymouth last month and the step up from 1400m to 1600m helped his cause on Thursday in his fifth start.

Ridden by the in-form Ryan Elliot, he settled midfield and was closer at the 600m but appeared flat early in the run home.

He then proceeded to run out, but once balanced he flew home to win by a short neck.

“I thought he’d thrown it away (early in the straight). It was just greenness,” Forbes said.

“Once he puts it together he’s going to be a very good horse.”