By Geoff Newling
Craig Martin is hoping to snare two good races with 'fresh' horses at Scone and Tamworth over the next week or so. The Tamworth trainer has nominated Navajo Chief for next Tuesday’s $20,000 Benchmark 70 Handicap (1000m) at Tamworth, where the six-year-old chestnut gelding son of Zizou is one of 11 entrants.
“He’ll probably run at Tamworth,” Craig Martin said. “He ran a really good race in the John Clift Memorial at Tamworth (on Tamworth Cup day). Was unlucky and should have finished a lot closer (than sixth).”
Martin also runs Present Sense in Friday’s $80,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Noel Leckie Country Cup Benchmark 85 Handicap (1400m). The six-year-old gelding son of Bryanbo’s Gift, a birthday present for Craig’s son Liam, has drawn wide in gate 13 with Josh Oliver to ride.
Present Sense will carry 57kg in a race also including Tamworth Cup runner-up After All That (Rod Northam) but hasn’t raced since finishing 6th to Exilia Miss in the April 18 Guyra Cup over 1400m. He was beaten just over two lengths that day and was a similar story to many of his recent near misses and close things in country cups.
That stretches back to last year when he was second in the Curlewis Cup at Gunnedah, second in the Maclean Cup at Grafton, third in the Narromine Cup and third in the Gunnedah Cup to Avroson before winning the Barraba Cup. However, those near misses continued again with a third in the Kempsey Cup, third in the Coonabarabran Cup, fifth in the Walcha Cup and sixth in the Quirindi Cup.
Craig Martin spelled him after being beaten by just over a length in the Quirindi Cup and he returned from that six-week break to run well in the Guyra Cup. He has trialled well, fourth to Crooked Blaze over 900m at Tamworth last week, and is ready to run another big race although Craig Martin said it “could be a bit short for him”.
“He’s drawn a little wide too,” he said. “He could go forward because he has raced up on the speed when he’s fresh. Not that we’ve wanted him to but because he does. He’s been a very consistent horse for us, won five races.”
While there are 11 nominations for Tuesday’s B70 at Tamworth there were 154 nominations in total for the Tamworth Jockey Club’s eight-race TAB meeting.