By Mark Brassel
“The way he acts around the stables, you wouldn’t believe how long he has been up this preparation,” said trainer Craig Widdison of his tough-as-teak galloper, Baby Jack.
Baby Jack will step out in Friday’s $20,000 MTC Marathon over the gruelling 2500-metres at Wagga Wagga having been in work since last October.
Left: Trainer Craig Widdison - remains confident of Wagga success with Baby Jack
“He’s into his third season! He raced during spring and summer and now he’s well into autumn,” Widdison deduced. “He has an amazing constitution and simply loves his racing.”
Baby Jack steamed home for second in the Country Cup (2000m) at Wagga on April 2, before finishing seventh (of eight) in a 2400m race at Bendigo 17 days later.
“Forget he even went around that day,” Widdison said. “They dawdled so Craig Newitt took off 1300m out and put some pace into the race. He was still there at the 200m but had to eventually tire.
“Ridden in his normal pattern next Friday he will be very hard to beat and absolutely loves the track. In fact, he seems to go better Sydney’s clockwise way of going than the reverse in Victoria.”
Baby Jack possesses strong Wagga statistics and although he has not won on the course, the gelding has finished three placings from four outings; the only unplaced run being in the (Listed race) Wagga Cup last year.
Local jockey Nick Souquet will have the mount on Baby Jack and is to partner the six-year-old for the first time.
The winner of the MTC Marathon (Benchmark 70) is exempt from ballot for the $100,000 Stayer’s Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday 10 June.
A further highlight at Wagga on Friday is the $25,000 Riverina Stars on the Rise over 1800m; a Benchmark 70 race for three and four-year-olds that will showcase the staying potential in the Southern Districts region.
The Stars on the Rise is an excellent pathway for three-year-olds that competed in the Murrumbidgee Turf Club Guineas on Wagga Cup Day. The Autumn Sprint (1200m) is another feature on the race card.
There are two other NSW race meetings on Friday at Grafton and Mudgee. Clarence River Jockey Club hosts Brushgrove Cup Day named after a little village near Grafton, and the afternoon is the small town’s biggest celebration of the year.
A Calcutta kicks off proceedings on Thursday night at the Brushgrove Hotel followed by the raceday leaving the village ‘empty’ with most of the townsfolk attending.
Mudgee hosts Bligh Amateur Picnic Racing Club, one of the oldest race clubs in Australia with members of the public welcome and encouraged to attend. BAPRC secretary, John Loneragan, said this will be the 136th year of the Bligh picnic races.