By Julieanne Horsman
Wayne Wilkes has two chances of hitting the mark when Taree Wingham Race Club hosts the Mid North Coast Country Championships qualifier this Sunday.
Fresh from her dominant win in the Arrowfield Queen of the North at Port Macquarie earlier this month, Shotgun Roulette is ready to fire.
“That was a very good run and I was impressed with her acceleration,” trainer Wayne Wilkes said. “She returned bigger and stronger this time and extended her great first up record.”
Wilkes decided to aim Shotgun Roulette at The Country Championships at the end of her last preparation after she had a disappointing run for 10th at Royal Randwick.
“She had only raced four times but she had been up for months and had simply had enough,” he said.
“The timing was perfect to tip her out and bring her back her back for the end of Summer.”
The four-year-old mare does her best work fresh so Wilkes has been keeping her happy with light beach work and swimming.
He’s confident she is at the right place in her preparation to be competitive over 1400m.
“I’m very happy with the way everything is going and expect her to perform well,” he said.
“She is a very versatile horse. She has raced right up to 2000m and has come 2nd in a Class 2 1500m TAB Highway last September so the distance is fine.
“We just need a decent barrier draw, a bit of pace in the race and a clear run in the straight.
“Ideally I’d like her to settle in about fifth position and run home strongly.”
Hometown hero, Corey Payne will return for the Country Championships and has been booked to ride Shotgun Roulette.
Wilkes was full of praise for his apprentice Chloe Baker, but conceded experience at Royal Randwick is a must for a race at this level.
Cleverly-named Shotgun Roulette (by Casino Prince from Six Gauge) was an $8,000 bargain buy from the Magic Millions sales as a two-year-old. She has now earned more than ten times that amount in prizemoney.
Should she be one of the first two past the post this Sunday, she has a chance to significantly increase her earnings in the $400,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on Saturday 1 April.
Wilkes has also accepted with two stablemates for the Country Championships heat this Sunday but only one will get a run.
Fox Creek has won two of her last four starts and is well suited to 1400m. King Russell is the fourth emergency.
Since the inception of The Country Championships, Wilkes has wanted to win and came close in 2015 with Rinn Pierre.
“She came third by a nostril,” he said. “It was so close. It’s exciting to have another go with a horse who is a genuine chance though.
“The Country Championships is becoming a very prestigious event and to win at your home track would be something else.”
Taree’s Country Championships heat is the fourth of eight in the series with all except the wildcard at Muswellbrook carrying prizemoney of $150,000.
Perfect Dare and Freestanding qualified at Grafton, Pumpkin Pie and Steel Frost will represent Goulburn and Stoneyrise and La La Loopsy are the contenders from Dubbo.
Heats will also be held at Scone, Wellington, Albury and Muswellbrook.