By Mark Brassel
Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy believes he has the firepower to topple the might of the Matthew Dunn stable in next Sunday’s $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier at Grafton.
The Murwillumbah-based Dunn is leading trainer in the Northern Rivers region and it is likely the stable will have up to a dozen horses entered for next weekend’s qualifier.
Bellamy will be represented by Northern Knight and Super Tonic who have both shown plenty of talent.
“He (Northern Knight) is going great guns – he’s a very happy horse and we just want to draw a nice barrier,” Bellamy said.
Northern Knight has raced five times for three wins and a third, the latest when third behind his stablemate Super Tonic on his home track in his first start for 22 weeks.
“His run was enormous as he had to carry 60 kilos first-up; he got to the leaders 100m out but just felt the pinch the last little bit. He has more improvement left in him before he (hopefully) goes to Sydney for the Final.”
Northern Knight must finish first or second to guarantee a start in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick on 7 April: “This horse is very promising and can travel anywhere in a race – he’s very adaptable.”
The gelding won his first three starts at Port Macquarie, Lismore and Coffs Harbour before tasting defeat for the first time when fifth in a Highway race at Rosehill Gardens last September with Hugh Bowman aboard.
“Hughie jumped off and said he only has good things to say about him. He said this horse is going to be a good miler (1600m) and really got to the line well. It was a top run behind some very good horses (Don’t Give a Damn and Suncraze) when he was coming to the end of his preparation.”
Raymond Stokes has partnered Northern Knight in four of his five starts and will again ride him at Grafton: “Raymond will stick with him. I believe he’s been offered other rides but I know he has a big opinion of my bloke and won’t be jumping off anytime soon.”
Stablemate Super Tonic has raced seven times for three wins and is an able Championships backup for Bellamy. Three starts back she finished sixth in a 1006m race at Port Macquarie but struck interference at a vital stage in the event won by Awesome Pluck who has already qualified for the Final.
“She received a bad squeeze 200m out which put her out of the race just as she was making an impression,” Bellamy lamented. “She’s just had no luck and when she won here last start at $14 I wasn’t surprised; I was interviewed pre-race on Sky Channel and told them she would go close.
“She is also going well and will be suited by the 1400m.” Peter Graham rode Super Tonic to victory last time out and will again be offered the ride next Sunday.