By Doug Ryan
Twenty nominations have been received for the MNCRA Newhaven Park Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Manning Valley Race Club’s mammoth $370,000 prizemoney TAB meeting at Taree this Sunday.
More than 130 nominations have been received for the “Showcase”, eight-race card where first and second in the Qualifier go into the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final over 1400m at Royal Randwick on April 3.
Successful trainers from qualifiers and the final in previous years, such as Port Macquarie’s Jenny Graham, Taree’s Wayne Wilkes who now trains with his son, Joel, and Bob Milligan, also from Taree, have nominated gallopers.
Five-year-old mare Bellastar was an unlucky third in last year’s Qualifier when trained by Wayne Wilkes but this year she is in the hands of Wauchope trainer Colt Prosser and comes into the race after a second at Port last start.
Graham won the Qualifier last year with Magnalane whereas this year she has nominated Innervoice which has won two of its past five starts. She won the then Country Championships Final with classy gelding Victorem; the horse being aimed at a $500,000 race at Royal Randwick early next month.
Milligan is banking on consistent winner and placegetter Charmmebaby which has raced well in Sydney class Highways to do the job.
The Wilkes clan has left nothing to chance and has nominated Austeja, Chase My Crown, Coffs Harbour Saturday winner Dunoon, Monica’s Star and Nicci Knee Knack.
Taree trainer Ross Stitt was worried about getting a start despite Casirina winning at Taree last start but it is assured of a run with its rating.
Others to nominate include Marc Quinn, Matthew Robinson, Jim Louizos, Allan Kehoe, Terry Evans, Grant Prosser, Lisa Sheppard and Robert Agnew in what should be a bottler of a race.