Parts added up to something special in all-weather battle

McEntee gelding had enthralling tussle with Captain Lars for top honours.

  • Saturday 11 April
  • News
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Spare Parts may only have cost a couple of thousand pounds, but he captured the hearts of all-weather fans when being drawn into an enthralling battle in the 2017/18 winter campaign.

Trained by Phil McEntee, Spare Parts went toe-to-toe with Captain Lars to be crowned the most successful horse of the all-weather season, with their to-and-fro going all the way to the final day of the campaign.

Spare Parts failed to strike in 11 starts for Charlie Hills, but owner Steve Jakes had faith, with the Choisir gelding being snapped up for a bargain-buy price and joining McEntee at the end of 2017 off a pretty lowly perch.

He got off the mark on his second start for the yard and it was an upwards trajectory from there.

McEntee said: “We bought him for 2,000 guineas at Tattersalls autumn sale rated 46 and we got up him to 92 – it was the stuff of dreams really.

“Every time we stepped him up a level, he just kept finding a bit more.

“He won a Lingfield apprentice race for Cameron Noble under a double penalty, carrying 10st 11lb which was as big a weight carrying-performance for many, many years on the Flat.”

After his initial Wolverhampton win in January 2018, Spare Parts made huge strides and in any other year he would likely have been a clear leader in terms of numbers of wins.

However, in the Archie Watson-trained Captain Lars he had a worthy adversary and the pair headed to the last day of the season tied in terms of both wins and places on countback.

Captain Lars went to Newcastle for a handicap and finished out of the places at 1.40, giving Spare Parts the chance to grab the overall glory in the All-Weather Championships Mile Final at Lingfield at 4.10.

Spare Parts could not make his presence felt though, resulting in a stalemate.

McEntee said: “I’m actually good friends with Archie and we exchanged quite a few messages as it was going on and it was quite a bit of fun.

“It went right down to the wire, the last day of the season, we had been tied all the way and ended up level.

“He was so consistent – he won at Kempton, Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Chelmsford, but we never sent him to Newcastle as he wasn’t a good traveller.

“We had a great night in London celebrating at the ROA awards.”

Spare Parts also provided top female rider Nicola Currie with a kick-start to her fledgling career, with McEntee quick to credit the rider and his daughter Grace for their work with the gelding.

He said: “Nicola Currie was just getting started then, she was a 7lb claimer, and he gave her a good start. If you asked her she would definitely say he was a big horse for her.

“My daughter, Grace, didn’t have her licence then, but she did everything with him – I never even sat on him, it was just between her and Nicola.”

Spare Parts went on to have a summer break and returned to start the following all-weather season on a mark of 90, but after three luckless runs, he sustained what transpired to be a career-ending injury at Lingfield.

He is still at McEntee’s Newmarket yard, but the trainer expects him to try his hand in a Retraining of Racehorses class later in the year.

He added: “We’ve still got him now. He had his injury in January 2019 and he ended up having six to eight months in his box before he was turned out at the end of last year.

“He’s been on the walker all winter and while we wouldn’t race him again, he’s ready for another job now and the RoR will be his target later in the year.

“Grace would love to keep him and while that seems possible right now, I’m not sure it will be when we’re back racing.”

Parts added up to something special in all-weather battle
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