John Sprague shooting for three straight with Oblivion at Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie trainer John Sprague has Oblivion shooting for three-straight wins on Sunday. Photo: Supplied.

The work of a good farrier and some easier racing has helped the John Sprague-trained Oblivion find his best form. 

The four-year-old Winning Rupert gelding always had the ability, but he only had two wins to show for his efforts after 24 starts, with a hoof complaint causing him and his trainer grief. 

“Ever since I have had him, he has had very crook feet, and he was always sore,” Sprague said. 

“He has very flat feet, and he’d pull a plate every start, and we had rubber packs and wedges, but he would keep pulling plates. 

“The farrier has sorted him out now, and he’s using this new thing, which is fibreglass around the outside, and ever since, he’s been feeling fantastic, and all credit goes to him (the farrier).”

With a wing on every hoof, Oblivion has rediscovered some excellent form, taking out the 1208m Benchmark 50 Handicap Easter Cup at Port Macquarie late last month before backing up and winning in the same grade and over the same distance earlier this month.

“We put him in those (Benchmark) 50s for a bit of confidence,” Sprague said. 

“He needed an easy kill in the first one, and we backed him up again, and he had 64.5kgs on his back, but he won it again.”

Oblivion will jump up in grade at Port Macquarie on Sunday, as he shoots for three straight wins on his home track when jumping from gate 13 in the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap, but he still has to carry some weight after being allotted 62.5kg by the handicapper. 

“He can handle the weight; he carried 64.5kg last start, and it will be a bit harder, and he’s getting close to a spell, but we’ll see how he goes,” Sprague said. 

Raymond Spokes has ridden Oblivion to his recent victories, and Sprague was happy to stick with a winning recipe. 

“We had lots of trouble with him early on, with him over-racing and that, and that’s why we stick with Raymond,” Sprague said.

“He’s worked him out, and he pulled him back to last a couple of times, and now he’s got him to settle, and he’s got him racing good.”

The Port Macquarie trainer will relish being on his home track again on Sunday. 

“It’s just a walk across the road and so much easier on the horses,” Sprague said.

“I have a lot of luck here at Port, and it’s a fair way to Grafton, and at Taree, you are running into city horses, so it’s always good when we can race at home.”

Sprague will have recent trial winner Maybe Smart (Kirk Matheson, gate 12) debuting in the 1000m Country Boosted Maiden Plate, but he wasn’t holding any hopes of a first-up win.

“She is not there yet. We are still in the deep end with her, and she is just having a couple of runs before she goes back to the paddock,” Sprague said. 

“She is very, very green and doesn’t know much about it.”

Wannawinwin (Kirk Matheson, gate 14) is second-up in the 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap, and Sprague believes the event could be a furlong or two short for the four-year-old.

“She ran a pretty good race the other day and got cut off for the run,” Sprague said. 

“She’s the wife’s horse, so hopefully, she can go all right, and Kirk has been riding her trackwork, and he wanted to ride ger. 

“We wanted to go to the 1200m, but I didn’t want to put her up against Oblivion, and it means she might be looking for a bit further.”

Sprague will head to Grafton on Tuesday, with impressive mare Whatyoulookingat (Cejay Graham, gate 12) taking on a very strong The Flying Jackal Open Handicap sprint (1181m).

“I thought she ran a great race last start when finishing fourth, but she is an Open Handicap horse, and I am limited to where I can race her,” Sprague said. 

“It’s going to be a very good race, and many of these horses are looking for the same race, so it won’t be easy to win.”

The stable’s best chance across the two meetings is Charmed Destiny (Kirk Matheson, gate 9), starting as the top weight (59kg) in the 1710m Class One Handicap. 

The four-year-old broke his maiden at Grafton last start, and Sprague envisions bigger and better things for his Tamayuz gelding. 

“He’s going to be a very handy horse,” Sprague said. 

“I reckon he’ll win one in town; he is looking excellent and coming ahead leaps and bounds, and the jockey is over the moon with him.” 

It is a big few days of racing in the Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers, with Lismore racing Saturday, Port Macquarie on Sunday, and Grafton on Tuesday. 

Lismore fields, click here.

Port Macquarie fields, click here

Grafton fields, click here.