By Grahame Timbrell
Ever So Natural has been three times a runner-up in the Country Championships series but connections hope Sunday’s Wild Card at Scone will finally bring a change of fortune.
The first step towards that goal has been retaining leading Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield as his rider while Taree-based trainer, Cliff Bashford, will not shy away from a change tactics if the track is heavy.
Below: Ever So Natural - set to break through this weekend. Image by - Bradley Photographers
Last year Ever So Natural came from near last to run second in the Taree heat then turned in a repeat performance when coming from third last on the turn to run third behind Clearly Innocent in the final at Randwick.
Last month he ran third to Cogliere in this year’s Taree heat after coming from ninth on the turn and being cluttered up by other horses. Schofield rode him in that heat and was keen to stay on him in the Wild Card.
“He is a horse that races best when allowed to drop out then get wide in the straight,” Bashford said. “He had no room at Taree to get wide but it wasn’t Glyn’s fault.
“He has good gate speed and could lead if he had to but we will look at the track when we get there then decide how he is to be ridden. If it is heavy we might have to ride him a little closer.”
Greg Bennett will have three runners as he strives to qualify two of them for the final and retire from training at the scene of one of his greatest triumphs, last year’s final win with Clearly Innocent.
“I will not be training past the first of April,” Bennett said. “I will be taking a couple of weeks to tidy things up here at Scone before we head north.”
Bennett has accepted the role as the head of education of horses as Aquis Farm in southern Queensland.
“All Summer Long has to be best of the three given his third in the heat at Scone,” Bennett said. “He drew wide and got a long way back and may have been a tad unlucky. He won’t be getting as far back this time over the shorter distance and neither will the other two. The 1280 metres will suit Invienna while Sassaby’s sixth at Scone was a good effort.”
Greg Ryan rode All Summer Long at Scone but Mitchell Bell goes on to the horse with Ryan to ride the Pat Farrell trained Alliterate. Rachel King remains on Invienna and Rachael Murray on Sassaby. First and second from the Wild Card go into the $400,000 final at Randwick on April 1.
SELECTIONS 1-1.05, TAB.COM.AU COUNTRY MDN, 1280m: PENNY DREADFUL 1, Maitre Dee 2, Grundalina 3, Belle’s Command 4. 2-1.40, DIMMOCK’S QUALTY MEATS MDN, 1000m: REPRIMAND 1, Williamson 2, Cappella Magna 3, Snipex Abaa 4. 3-2.20, SCONE EQUINE HOSPITAL CLASS TWO, 1500m: MY MILLY MOO 1, Awake The Stars 2, Dalmatia Prince 3, Zijin Cheng 4. 4-2.55, ALLWELD SERVICES BENCHMARK 60, 1450m: REFUGE BAY 1, Chosen Prince 2, Moobi 3, Exitozo 4. 5-3.30, VINERY STUD SPRINT BENCHMARK 65, 1000m: DIFFICULT TO GET 1, Zero Cash 2, Grammar School 3, Hesco Gold 4. 6-4.10, BALMORAL SHOWCASE HCP, 1280m: PRINCESS POSH 1, It’s A Shamozzle 2, Specific Choice 3, Mr Entertainer 4. 7-4.45, COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP WILD CARD, 1280m: EVER SO NATURAL 1, Art D’Amour 2, All Summer Long 3, After All That 24. 8-5.25, JTS REALTY CLASS ONE, 1280m: CLEEVE HILL 1, Hunter Caulfield 2, Majestic Pedrille 3, Crafty Tycoon 4. Best Bets: Princes Posh, Cleeve Hill