By Ray Hickson
Scone trainer Rod Northam believes he has three very good chances heading into Sunday’s $150,000 H&NWRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) on his home track but fears he’s only racing for one spot in next month’s final.
Northam says the presence of hot favourite Suncraze looms large over the Scone feature and is hoping some good fortune falls the way of his trio My Tagoson, Remittance and Try A Lil Harder.
“I think they should all run pretty well, it’s just whether we are racing for second prizemoney and Suncraze is too good,’’ Northam said.
“I’m happy with my three, they are all fit and healthy and at the top of their game. Hopefully they can be there when the whips are cracking.
“You plan and aim for the race and hopefully it all works out. They’ve got here with not too much weight and the right benchmark and hopefully we can get some prizemoney.’’
Suncraze was the $1.75 favourite on Thursday with TAB for the Qualifier with Northam’s Try A Lil Harder ($5.00) a clear second elect with My Tagoson $11 and Remittance $18.
My Tagoson has been aimed at the Country Championships since he won back-to-back Highway races in Sydney earlier in the season and is peaking after two runs from a break.
The gelding hit the line strongly at his second run in when fourth at Scone on February 23 but has a few more things in his favour this time around.
“His run the other day was very good, he carried 60kg and will drop to 56kg. He was hitting the line well and the extra distance will suit,’’ he said.
“He probably is a miler plus but he does run a strong 1400m. Everything has been going along quite nicely and last start was a good indication he’s not far off his best.
Northam said not to expect My Tagoson to make a lot of use of his inside barrier as he is a horse that naturally drifts back so he’ll be relying on the gaps opening for him.
Try A Lil Harder has made such a good fist of returning from an 18 month absence with three wins from her last four starts he’s burst into Country Championships contention.
The trainer said chips had to be removed from both knees back in 2016 and the decision was made to give her plenty of time.
“An old vet told me once the longer you give them the more chance you have of them standing up,’’ he said.
“He said to give her six months and we gave her 12 just to make sure and it has proven to be the right idea.’’
The four-year-old mare is a last start Highway winner over 1100m at Rosehill on February 24 where Punters Intel data revealed she ran the fastest last 600m of the race in 34.09 with a last 200m of 11.49.
My Tagoson hits the line late second-up at Scone on February 23
“She’s got a lot of talent, I thought it was going to be a year too soon for her but she raced that well last start I think the 1400m will be fine,’’ he said.
“You’re wasting 12 months if you wait and with a mare that’s not ideal. If she doesn’t make it this year she won’t be aimed at next year and we will be looking to win as many races as we can.’’
Northam warned not to let Remittance fly under the radar if he can overcome an awkward alley.
The gelding beat Qualifier rival Caerless Choice in a barrier trial at Scone on March 8 after running fifth in the same race as My Tagoson a couple of weeks earlier.
“My Tagoson needs to be fresh to run 1400m but Remittance needs to be rock hard fit,’’ Northam said.
“We went out with the idea of trying to ride him for a sit last start and he was caught three deep. Greg (Ryan) was trying to pull him back and he just over raced.
“I think he is probably a 1200m horse but if he does run the 1400m he will be right there. If he can slide across and not spend too much petrol early he’ll give a strong kick.’’
First emergency Our Sebring has also accepted for the final event at Scone, a Class 2 over 1300m, and Northam said if he doesn’t gain a start he will run in the other race and look to head to Muswellbrook for the Wild Card race.
That’s where Northam’s runner-up from last year’s Country Championships Final, After All That, managed to qualify after rain put paid to his chances in the heat.