By Tony Megahey
Knockabout trainer Joe Cleary, from the famed Queanbeyan racing family, has a firmer conviction about one of his duo in Saturday’s TAB $60,000 Class 3 Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick but is open to a surprise.
Joe considers four-year-old mare Not Bossy, recently out of maiden class, will progress to far better races but says different tactics and a softer track may result in previous series placegetter Cliff finding his best form.
Not Bossy is on the lower limit of 53kg for Jess Taylor while Cliff carries 55kg for Josh Adams.
Cleary is adamant that Mate Story, Frenchman Jean Dubois’s recent Rosehill Garden Highway winner, deserves to be a short priced favourite.
“Going through the form Mate Story beat a stronger field than this one,” Cleary said. “He’s up in weight, they’ve claimed, but aside from him it’s a winnable race.
“The preference of mine is for Not Bossy, she’s got the upside and in 12 months I think she’ll be really nice Country Cups mare.
“Jumping from a maiden to a Class 3 is always a task but she was so strong against the pattern winning at the Sapphire Coast. Out to 1800m looks suitable, and she drops from 57kg to 53kg.
“And well that Cliff just hasn’t lived up to our earlier expectations after a couple of Highway placings. The two from 25 starts tells you that. But then again the 12 placings also says plenty for his honesty, and he’s been placed in the series.
“The jury is still out on him but we’re going to notify the stewards that he’ll be ridden off the pace to try and stretch him out to the 1800m. And he hasn’t been comfortable on really hard tracks so a bit of give will help him as well.”
On the leader-renowned Sapphire circuit two weeks ago Not Bossy came from near last to win running away at 1400m. And Cleary is confident she can extend to 1800m and will appreciate the bigger track at headquarters.
Cleary is in winning form with a recent double at his home track and further success at the Bega Carnival.
Not Bossy is owned by Canberra publican John Collins. “John has an interest in four of five with me and he’s been a hugely successful businessman, the family has The Dock Hotel in Canberra. It’s a great hospitality venue.”
Meanwhile Mate Story offered the long-proven Highway form credentials when he came off successive Canterbury mid-week placings to wear down the promising Danny Williams-trained Acquittal. Dubois trains his team at Goulburn and almost two decades ago was a leading harness racing driver-trainer who won two of the biggest Group One races in Europe.