By Tony Megahey
The gruelling travel for Country Cups specialist Brett Thompson rivals the early explorers but the rewards at the corresponding period last season was a career best four wins at Cobar and a treble at faraway Lightning Ridge.
The former shearer and Gulgong’s multiple Central Districts premiership trainer offers value in Sunday’s TAB Narromine USMC $20,000 Digger’s Cup with Attalea who is consistency personified and weighted to win.
The five-year old Shaft gelding boasts four wins and as many placings from his past nine starts, including a win in the historic Narrabri Cup last month and then a photo second in the Lightning Ridge Cup.
“10 hours return is a task but he’s going just enormous this prep and while we’ve also nominated for Saturday’s Merriwa Cup, I’m leaning towards Narromine the way we’re weighted,” Thompson offers.
Attalea’s allocated 54 kg is reduced by Alena Skerritt’s 1.5 kg claim, bringing him in at a luxury below the limit.
The prestigious Narromine feature on the ANZAC tribute race day typically has drawn performed country gallopers from far and wide, along with a notable city performer.
Wyong’s Damien Lane has accepted with Choice Larga who has recent city form, along with two stable-mates in respective races. Lane though has yet to nominate a rider for Choice Larga.
Narromine’s Justin Stanley’s promising Incision finished third in last month’s Dubbo Leg of the WRA Country Championships, narrowly missing a berth in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick. Multiple winners, Clint Lundholm’s Joey’s Destiny and Peter Bloomfield’s Barricade were also regional contenders in the prestige series.
The one query for the super honest Attalea is that all his wins are at 1100m and 1200m. He’s only raced twice at 1300m for a placing.
However that’s no concern for Thompson.
“He’s won at Narromine, that’s an important factor, and the way he relaxes in his races I’ve got no worries he’ll get 1300m,” he said.
“He can lead or take a sit. He’s been closing off solid enough in his 1200m wins and this prep he’s never gone better, he’s so consistent.
“He should have won at Lightning Ridge, he just got a little too far back on a dirt track and the dust kickback is a factor then.”
The Narromine track is currently rated a good three with fine weather predicted and a booming crowd anticipated for this Sunday.