By Doug Ryan
Local trainer Michael Byers, back in business after a 10-week extended holiday, is hoping to put a spell on rivals in the Newcombe Coach Lines Gloucester Cup (1000m) by winning it with his mare Music Magic at Taree on Monday.
The six-year-old just missed scoring first-up for him when just over a length third over 1000m at Muswellbrook on February 1 and has progressed well since. She hit the front about 50m out for jockey Andrew Gibbons but with him riding at Tamworth on Monday the mount has gone to Hall Of Fame jockey Robert Thompson.
“The mare was probably short of a run and will be much fitter at Taree,” Byers said. His last win before his long spell was seven-year-old mare Who Is Game in the Tuncurry Forster Cup over 2100m on September 8, around the same time Music Magic was showing her wares in city races. Her best run was a 2.4 lengths fourth at Warwick Farm before showing she needed a break after heat exhaustion led to her failure in a Highway race at Rosehill late August.
Music Magic took time for Byers to work out in seven starts after transferring from another trainer: “She was probably tired but I kept her going. She has had a good spell ... she is a nice horse and I have kept her fresh.”
A good field of sprinters are engaged and a lot will depend on luck in the dash for honours. Port Macquarie five-year-old mare Dreamalina, trained by Neil Godbolt, is also second-up from a spell and has a good record with its six wins being over the distance and two of them have been at Taree from five starts. The mare resumed from a spell at Walcha and after being in the lead most of the way she was beaten 1.3 lengths when fourth to Epic Decision.
Her last win was three starts back when she scored by just over 2.5 lengths at Coffs Harbour on October 13 in beating subsequent winner Bonne Cheval.
Cessnock five-year-old mare Kelsha Begs, trained by Alan Smith and to be ridden by Travis Wolfgram, was only about 2.5 lengths behind Port Macquarie’s three-year-old gelding Awesome Pluck over 1010m at Port on February 2 at its last start. Since then the winner was second to stablemate Victorem in the $150,000 MNCRA Qualifier for the $500,000 Country Final at The Championships in April.
The mare got into a speed battle early with noted front-runner Port’s Laurentian at its start at Port and only weakened over the last bit in a solid run: “She is only small (414kgs) and I was happy with the run,” Smith said. In November the mare had two wins over 1000m at Port and has been consistent this campaign.
Smith said her 10 first-time owners were very happy with the mare as she had paid her way with more than $60,000 prizemoney.
Wauchope trainer Michael O’Neill is backing up five-year-old gelding Stoddart after a win in similar class over 1000m at Taree last start: “He is a nice quiet horse, a bit of a boofhead, but he has been working super,” he said.
Another galloper backing up after a win at the same meeting over 1600m is three-year-old Kempsey gelding Financial, trained at Gladstone by Peter Ball. His son, Tony, said the gelding had pulled up great: “Hasn’t left an oat.”
Winning jockey Robert Thompson said Financial was looking for more distance and gets it in the Class 1 & Maiden Plate over 2000m, with him taking the mount again.
RACE 1: Bold Dapper 1, All Too Soft 2, Vintage Luxe 3.
RACE 2: Hollywood Rose 1, Leiladane 2, Serket 3.
RACE 3: Financial 1, The Intern 2, Yuralla Boy 3.
RACE 4: Go Joyce Go 1, Second Island 2, Hard Merchandise 3.
RACE 5: Parnossos 1, Zigamore 2, Stars And Stripes 3.
RACE 6: Music Magic 1, Dreamalina 2, Kelsha Begs 3.
RACE 7: Tawfiq Boy 1, Dream Charge 2, Bluemoon Dream 3.