By Julieanne Horsman
She came from the rear to salute in the 2016 Wagga Town Plate and Just A Blur will return to the Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Thursday with the aim of claiming back-to-back titles.
The six-year-old mare, trained by Barbara Joseph and son Paul Jones, is primed for the feature race.
“When Matty Cahill (jockey) got off her after her run at Albury he told me she is going better than she was when she won the Town Plate last year,” Mr Jones said. “It was a luckless run but she flew home and hit the line strongly.
“Her most recent run at Randwick should be forgotten because it was an on-pace day and she simply didn’t handle the heavy track.”
At first glance Just A Blur’s recent form doesn’t appear all that flash, but her achievements aren’t properly reflected in her results. She has finished fourth in two Group 3 races and has been competing mostly in Listed company.
“She has had to carry big weights as a result of the benchmarking system which has made winning tough, but she drops back in class for the Town Plate and will appreciate having only 54kgs on her back,” Mr Jones said.
“I’d like her to draw a gate around 7 or 8, sit midfield with a good genuine speed in the race and then get to the outside and drive home.”
Just A Blur has never been beaten at Wagga and has won two of three feature races at the track with the second being the 2014 Wagga Guineas as a three-year-old.
“We had an owner who wanted to go for the Wagga Triple Crown and have a crack at Gold Cup but it’s not the right race for her so we set her for the Town Plate again,” Mr Jones said.
“It was such a thrill winning last year. Her preparation was flawless and we were confident she’d run a great race. We had a big one that night!”
Just A Blur was bought for the bargain price of $20,000 from the Inglis Classic Sale and has earned $400,000 in prizemoney for her happy owners.
The Joseph Jones stable has eight other horses nominated on Town Plate Day although not all of them are guaranteed a start.
At 23rd in the ballot for the Town Plate, Rock On Zariz is likely to miss out. She is also nominated for the Benchmark 78 Fillies & Mares race at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday but will run in the Town Plate if she gets the chance.
Alfden is set to line up in the Moane Fitzgerald Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1600m) and was impressive last start at Canberra when he flew home from the back to snatch third.
“He’s coming out of a very strong form race and if he gets a start he’ll be one of our best chances over the entire carnival,” Mr Jones said.
Darts Away is the top weight in the Advanced Communications Riverina 4YO+ Benchmark 65 Handicap (1600m) but with claiming apprentice Patrick Scorse on board, he’ll carry 58.5kgs.
“Patrick is very excited to be riding on a major race day and we’re thrilled to be giving him that opportunity,” Mr Jones said.
Croix De Vie will have a tilt at The Daily Advertiser Benchmark 60 Handicap (2000m) and has a great record at the track, having won all but one start there.
“Blaike McDougall will ride him and he knows the horse,” Mr Jones said. “They won a race at Wagga together in February.”
Tyres Are Crucial made his presence felt with a dominant win on debut at Wagga in April. He followed that up with a close second last Sunday and drops 1kg in the Inglis Bonus 2YO Handicap (1200m).
Mr Jones is hopeful of a start for Prying in the Harrisons Joinery Class 2 Handicap (1400m) and with stablemate Inch Perfect instead heading to the Wagga Guineas the day after, he is already one step closer to making the field.
At 25th in the ballot for the NSWROA Maiden Handicap (1400m) Sly Grin will almost certainly miss out.
“There’s a suitable race for him in Canberra next week so I am not too concerned,” Jones said.