By Julieanne Horsman
Quiet achiever, Free Standing, has caused a major upset in the Country Championships, taking out the final by two and half lengths.
The gelding, trained by Cathleen Rode at Coffs Harbour, was quick out of barrier 1nand travelled quietly along the rail a few lengths off the lead.
With 300m to go, Blake Shinn steered Free Standing through a gap and when he kicked away no-one could catch him.
“It gives me great satisfaction to win for Cathleen,” Shinn said. “This is a new incentive that Racing NSW have brought in and it’s been welcomed into NSW racing with open arms and given the country trainers a chance to enjoy city racing.”
Cathleen Rode has just three horses in work and flooding at Coffs Harbour almost derailed her preparations.
“We weren’t allowed to leave the area because of being trained in the area until the week beforehand,” Rode said.
“We sent him down with the foreman and he’s been at Wyong for a week for me.
“Thankfully it all worked out and here we are.
Free Standing finished second behind Perfect Dare in the NRRA Qualifier at Grafton and was overlooked as a chance in the final, jumping at $41. But Rode knew the horse was more talented than what the result at Grafton suggested.
“If they had watched the race he got hindered and couldn’t get out until the last minute,” she said.
The fight for the minor places was a close one with six horses crossing the line within a length of each other.
After All That managed to snatch second for Scone trainer Rodney Northam, which was a huge feat considering he only qualified in the Wild Card last Sunday and broke his hip twice as a juvenile.
“He went super,” jockey Robert Thompson said. “He got held up over the rise otherwise he would have finished closer.”
Not For Export, a $201 chance finished 3rd for an ecstatic Dar Lunn. He came 3rd in the WRRA qualifier at Dubbo and only gained a start in the final when La La Loopsy pulled out due to injury.
Sentimental favourite, Stoneyrise , led into the straight but was run down to finish a gutsy 7th.