By Geoff Newling
Tamworth trainer Mark Mason will start both Strictly Concert and Eye On America in Friday’s $20,000 FSDP Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m) at Tamworth after they almost bookended the barriers.
Both are returning from spells with Strictly Concert jumping from barrier 10 with Luke Cumberland on board, one from the outside, while five-year-old Eye On America jumps from barrier one with Andrew Gibbons to ride.
Strictly Concert carries 62kg while Eye On America, who has won all three of his Tamworth starts, has 61.5kg.
“Both will run,” Mark Mason confirmed.
“There’s not much else around to take them to and it’s pointless taking them to Sydney .
“Both have been working well. Strictly Concert is looking for a bit longer but Eye On America is a chance. Hopefully he will show something. Strictly Concert will get back, that’s his pattern but hopefully the other horse will put himself there.”
Eye On America has won four of his 10 starts and is in line for a Country Championship heat run at Scone later in the year.
Friday’s meeting will be run on a Good 4 track with the rail out 2m for the full circumference.
“The track is just starting to take off,” Track Manager Lindsay Bowne said of a recent “renovation”.
“It’s on the improve and while we still have a few issues it can only get better in this growing season.”
TJC general manager Kay Jeffrey said seven strong races will be run with almost 90 acceptors today.
“We have had good acceptances despite plenty of racing in the HNWRA in the past few weeks,” Kay Jeffrey said of a recent program that included the Inverell Cup, Wallabadah Cup, Quirindi and two Scone meetings.
“It just goes to show the need for more races in the area, there are a lot of horses that need a start.”
She said Friday’s meeting is also a good one for the locals with many “tradies” still on holidays.
“It’s a good opportunity to come out and also a good run to our Concrete Industry Suppliers Country Music Cup meeting on Thursday, January 25.
“That’s the day before the long weekend and a part of the Country Music Festival. In the past we’ve just had our race day but this year we’re doing something different and have some country Music stars out here on the day as well as a band (Shannon Watkins Band) playing on the front lawn for a couple of hours after the races. It’s a good opportunity to kick up your heels and have a bit of fun before heading off around town.”
The Country Music Cup meeting is also a free entry day as well as being a Showcase meeting where all races are worth $30,000.”