Tips from Brad Gray
All your tips, form and analysis for Sunday’s Scone Country Championships Qualifier.
Winner: 4. Art D’Amour ($6) This four-year-old is unbeaten in four career outings and couldn’t have been more impressive first-up in the Scone Country Championship Preview Trainer. It was an ambitious plan from trainer Cody Morgan given the horse’s three previous runs had been over 1000m (twice) and 1150m. Art D’Amour loomed up down the outside like he was going to win by a good margin but understandably his condition blew out late, but he still won well enough. He meets All Summer Long a whopping 5.5kg worse at the weights for a 0.5L win, but tipping him on the basis that he has so much improvement still in him. Not overly concerned about the wide draw either as he can find cover three-deep and peel out in the straight.
What the trainer says (Cody Morgan): "He is very small but he is fast and tries very hard. He is constantly surprising us and maybe he will again in the Country Championships.”
Art D’Amour's first-up win at Scone
Quinella: 5. All Summer Long ($4.60) He put in a shocker first-up in a Highway Handicap before bouncing back to form in the Scone Preview behind Art D’Amour. At his last two outings he has lumped 62.5kg and then 62kg so he’ll appreciate the set wet conditions which sees him drop back to 57kg. As mentioned above, he meets Art D’Amour significantly better at the weights. The wide draw hurts his chances more than Art D’Amours though being a horse than likes to settle somewhere midfield.
He ran second to Clearly Innocent in this Qualifier last year before being scratched for the final where Greg Bennett thought he’d have given the winner a real run for his money. Any rain enhances his chances further.
What the trainer says (Greg Bennett): “He gets in good at the weights and with a trial and two races under his belt, he is cherry ripe.”
All Summer Long's second in the Qualifier last year
Related article Bennett's Final Fling
Trifecta: 9. Caerless Choice ($6) Like Art D’Amour, he takes a perfect record into Sunday having won his three career starts. This race has been a long-range plan for trainer Paul Messara and Caerless Choice rounded off his preparation with an eye-catching trial at Scone behind fellow contender L’elu. He tackles the 1400m first-up but on debut he won over 1300m before capping off his campaign with a win over the mile. His latest win wasn’t by a space but he showed a real will to win, which is a priceless trait in a race horse.
This three-year-old is a very classy commodity and should be in the finish somewhere. Of all the key chances, he is the one that looks to have drawn kindest too.
What the trainer says (Paul Messara): “He has won three in the bush and I think he’s the right type of horse for the race. He’s an up and comer and an improver,”
Caerless Choice barrier trial - 17 Feb
Roughie: 6. Sassaby ($15) Sassaby is another that went around in the Scone Preview. He led the field up but offered little in the straight when asked to find. However, he was only beaten 2.5L and it would have been even closer of not for a late check of heels. He did go around as a warm $3.80 favourite in the race too.
Second-up last preparation he improved sharply to beat Classic Uniform, who in his six runs since has gone on to win three races in town and place in another two. He is proven at the trip and the barrier offers regular rider Rachael Murray the chance to get some cover, instead of being left the sitting duck. Don’t discount him.
What the trainer says (Greg Bennett): “Had he not been interfered with, he would have performed better. He’s stripped fitter for the run and I’m happy with him.”
Sassaby beating Classic Uniform
*All prices courtesy of TAB and are correct as of 10am Friday on 3 March.
Grafton Perfect Dare $2.10 (1st) Sunny Fame $11 (13th) My Cousin Bossy $13 (7th) Roughie: Foxy Walk $71 (5th)
Goulburn Ruthless Agent $6 (4th) Pumpkin Pie $2.50 (1st) Shutter Bug $8 (6th) Roughie: Steel Frost $17 (2nd)
Dubbo La La Loopsy $2.50 (2nd) Eagles Dare $17 (6th) A Magic Zariz $7 (8th) Roughie: Coming In Hot $11 (10th)
Taree Cogliere $6 (1st) Ever So Natural $4.20 (3rd) Shotgun Roulette $7 (2nd) Roughie: Dubai Sights $11 (6th)