By Geoff Newling
Five last start winners grace the field when the 14 starters get underway in Thursday’s $30,000 Concrete Industry Supplies Tamworth Country Music Cup Showcase Class 1 Handicap (1200m) at Tamworth. It could even be six if fourth emergency Sagan Star, trained at Quirindi by Geoff O’Brien, gets a run in the feature race.
Two of the last start winners are prepared by Scone trainer Rod Northam and both – Try A Lil Harder and Love For Willow – won their maiden races at Gunnedah last Tuesday. Two of the last start winners - Oscar The Grouch and Saint Helena – won their last starts at Tamworth too.
Oscar The Grouch, prepared by Cody Morgan at Tamworth, won a 1200m Maiden on January 5 and the Jeremy Sylvester-prepared Saint Helena also won a 1200m Maiden at Tamworth on the same day. Oscar The Grouch has drawn barrier 1 with Newcastle apprentice Louise Day to claim 2kg off its 58kg handicap while saint Helena jumps from barrier eight for its Cessnock trainer.
Waimea Bay is also a last start winner, although that win came back in September for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees at Tuncurry. The three-year-old filly has had a good spell and resumed with three barrier trials over 800, 900m and 1000m at Newcastle.
Rod Northam’s two Country Music Cup hopefuls will be ridden be female jockeys Rachael Murray (Try A Lil Harder) and Courtney van der Werf (Love For Willow). Rachael pings Try A Lil Harder from barrier 11 and Courtney jumps from barrier seven on the four-year-old daughter of Denman.
“Both of them came through their runs at Gunnedah nicely,” Rod Northam said. “They’ve done well since.
“Try A Lil Harder was a little bit more dominant (over the 1000m) but has got to run the 1200m. Love For Willow has drawn a bit better (7 compared to 11) and that evens them up. It’s a $30,000 race so you expect it to be a tough race but both of them should run well.”
Northam also has a pair of runners in the $40,000 Kelly Covey Engineers Tamworth Country Showcase Maiden Plate (1200m) – The Debater and Bring The Joy. Matthew Paget jumps The Debater from barrier one.
“It’s not ideal for him though,” Rod Northam said of the inside draw. “He does like a bit of room but hopefully it will open up for him. Bring The Joy is drawn quite well (7) and Rachael Murray will ride.
“She (Bring The Joy) will parade in ear muffs but take them off at the barriers. The step up in distance should help her, hopefully she’ll be midfield but she’s still learning.”
Northam also has Don’t Doubt Her and Dreamnomore engaged Thursday and also believes they are chances: “Don’t Doubt Her is going well, I’m very happy with her but the 1000m could be a little sharp for her. She’ll find the line well though and Dreamnomore has drawn perfectly.
“Her last couple of runs she’s drawn out and been posted. Before that she drew a good gate at Gunnedah and won impressively. I think all of mine are good each-way chances.”