By Geoff Newling
Whirlwind Ascent begins his tilt at the Country Championships when the Muswellbrook gelding runs in Friday’s $20,000 Country Championships Preview Class 4 Handicap (1300m) at Scone.
The Mark Schmetzer trained four-year-old is the lone Muswellbrook entrant for a race that the Muswellbrook trainer is hoping will be a launching pad to the Sunday, March 5 Country Championships Qualifier at Scone.
“That’s the plan,” Mark Schmetzer said. “It’s been the goal since his owner bought him.”
Sydneysider Doug Mullins bought the lightly raced four-year-old gelding specifically to race in the Country Championships and gave him to Mark to train. He had won his maiden at Mudgee for then trainer, former Muswellbrook horseman Mack Griffith, but has had five runs now for Mark, winning one and finishing an unlucky third at Canterbury.
“He was unlucky there too,” Mark said of a half length third. “Unlucky not to win. He’s still doing a bit wrong too, still immature. Once the penny drops, though, he will be a nice horse. “
Mark tested success with him at Tamworth before his third to Sunny Fame at Canterbury in his last preparation. After a three-month spell he trialled at Newcastle and then ran a 5.8 length eighth to Dubai Sights at Port Macquarie on February 3.
“You can forget that run,” Mark said. “He can only improve.”
That Whirlwind Ascent has had just the eight starts means he might be able to have a double dip at the Country Championships.
“Whether this year or next, or both,” Mark added. “Be good to have a crack at both. The track at Scone is going to suit him too.”
Mark Schmetzer prepares him at Muswellbrook and was in busy mode earlier today as he prepared to run last start Tamworth winner, Dormeuse, at this afternoon’s Cessnock meeting.
Dormeuse jumps from barrier 6 in today’s Vintage Cessnock Motor Inn Class 2 Handicap (1700m) with Terry Green aboard. Green rode the six-year-old chestnut son of Niello when a half neck winner at Tamworth on January 27.
“Be interesting to see how he goes,” Mark added. “Should go all right but it’s his first time over the trip. He’s been over-racing.”