Apprentice Todd Quinn makes his racing comeback with two rides at Taree on Thursday, including the topweight Evangelist in the main event, the $22,000 Taree Cup Prelude (1624m).
Back riding after a 12 months away from racing, Quinn, now 29, is apprenticed to Rosehill trainer Tim Martin. Quinn, who can still claim 4kg, last rode at Canberra on August 26 last year before he took a break from riding. But after a few months away he decided to give racing another crack and returned to work for Martin late last year.
"He's been back riding work for me for about nine months now and has come back with a more mature attitude and a much better work ethic," said Martin. "He's finally making his riding comeback at Taree and hopefully he can come back with a winner."
Quinn has just two rides at Taree: Orsippus for Martin in the Stacks Law Firm Maiden Hcp (1624m) and Evangelist for Armidale trainer Lea Selby in the Winning Post Function Centre Taree Cup Prelude (1624m). "Orsippus should race well and be hard to beat with Todd's 4kg claim," said Martin.
Lea Selby only booked Quinn for her stable newcomer Evangelist after seeing he was down to ride Martin's horse at Taree. She was keen to get as much weight relief for the topweight, who was allotted 63.5kg and was keen to use Quinn's 4kg allowance.
Selby recently purchased Evangelist for $8250 at auction and Thursday's Taree race will be the eight-year-old's third run for his new stable. Evangelist has won five races and just over $250,000 in prizemoney in a 38-start career that began in the United Kingdom under renowned trainer Sir Michael Stoute in 2012.
After winning races at Windsor, Warwick and Bath in 2013 Evangelist arrived in Australia to join the Tony McEvoy stable. Evangelist won first-up at Rosehill on July 19, 2014 but his only other win in Australia came in the Sale Cup in October, 2015.
Evangelist was even tested over the jumps last year, but failed to fire in two hurdle starts at Warnambool and Casterton. This year he had five starts at Morphettville for two solid placings before he went up for auction in June.
"I decided to buy him as he was going quite cheap. And I liked his name anyway as I'm a strict Catholic!" she quipped.
Evangelist had his first run for Selby in the Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on July 12 where, as expected, he failed to threaten against a strong field of sprinters. Selby then ran him in the Coffs Harbour Cup (1610m) last Thursday with the gelding finishing 12th, beaten just over five lengths, behind Darci's Affair but the run was better than it first looks on paper.
"He has a history of missing the start and he did it again at Coffs Harbour and he also found some trouble approaching the home turn," said Selby. "I though It was a pretty good run under the circumstances.
"And he went into the race a bit underdone and felt the pinch over the last 200m. He'll improve further at Taree on Thursday although he probably still needs another run to bring him on.
"John Sprague's horse (Giltra) - who will run the favourite at Taree - beat him a couple of lengths at Coffs Harbour last week but he went into the race race-fit, so I think Evangelist with added fitness this time can run well at Taree."
Selby will see how Evangelist performs on Thursday before deciding where the gelding heads next, with the $80,000 Taree Cup (2000m) on August 20 or the $30,000 Gunnedah Cup (1600m) on August 21 both being considered.
"I'll know more after this race on Thursday - whether to keep him to 1600m for the Gunndedah Cup or step him up to the 2000m of the Taree Cup," she said.
Thursday's seven-race meeting is the first of three big Taree-Wingham Racing Club meetings coming up in August. They race again on August 18, featuring the $32,000 Hopkins Livermore Cup (1400m), and on August 20 for their Taree Cup Country Showcase meeting.