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Tilley and Spurcraft split due to virus

By Glenn Davis

The coronavirus disruption is set to break up one of the State’s most successful partnerships when Toowoomba flyer Spurcraft tackles the Aquis Open Handicap at the Gold Coast on Friday.

Jockey Les Tilley has ridden Spurcraft 15 times during his career for eight wins but will part company with the six-year-old in his Gold Coast assignment after choosing to ride in the Metro North zone.

He has been replaced by Gold Coast rider Jag Guthmann-Chester.

Racing Queensland has divided the State into five zones to combat coronavirus with the south-east corner split into two metropolitan regions, Metro North and Metro South.

It means two metropolitan meetings will be held this week at the Gold Coast and Doomben on Friday and Saturday.

Spurcraft’s trainer Charlotte White is based in the Toowoomba region which allows her to race at the Gold Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba.

Spurcraft has a 50 percent winning strike rate with nine wins and six placings in 18 starts but is yet to win in two attempts over 1200 metres.

Only three other jockeys have ridden Spurcraft with Josh Oliver the only other successful rider when the gelding won on debut in a maiden at Toowoomba in November, 2017.

“Les would have ridden him if he was in our area but he’s in the other zone so we’ve had to find another rider,” White said.

White has made an important gear change and will remove blinkers from Spurcraft who finished fourth to the Team Edmonds-trained Usmanov over 900-metre at the Gold Coast on March 14.

“He wore blinkers for the first time at the Gold Coast but he played up in the barriers and hit his head,” White said.

“When he came back after the race, he had a slight nick on his forehead so I’ve decided to take them off again.

“I only put them on last time because his owners and I thought they might help him focus.

“It was an enormous run considering he got well back and made up a lot of ground.

“It augurs well for 1200 metres tomorrow.”

Spurcraft earned a reputation as being one of the quickest horses in Queensland winning his way through restricted grades.

He claimed Black-Type for the first time when second in the Listed Chief De Beers in 2018 before winning the Listed Bribie Handicap at Doomben in December.

Racing Queensland webnews   April 2