By Doug Ryan
Local gelding Blinkin Artie could reverse the placings on Port Macquarie’s I Wanna Be A Jeep when they last met and win the $27,000 Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup Publican’s Purse (1600m) at Taree on Friday.
A win with the four-year-old gelding would join Taree trainer Ross Stitt’s other cup winner Blinkin Quick which won in 2008. Six-year-old gelding I Wanna Be A Jeep beat Blinkin Artie in the Walcha Cup over 1440m early last month and the two haven’t met since.
Blinkin Artie had won at Taree on January 21 and after the Walcha Cup, the gelding was narrowly beaten by Bankok over 1300m at Rosehill on February 27. Trainer Jenny Graham’s I Wanna Be A Jeep has since run a close fourth to Tarbert over 1315m at Coffs Harbour.
Her gelding likes to bowl along and has the ace position to be advantaged, whereas Blinkin Artie should get a nice sit to show the quality that enabled a win over 1300m from a trailing position on January 21.
“A shower of rain helped,” Stitt said after that win and the track for Manning Valley Race Club’s eight-race TAB meeting could again be rain-affected.
Blinkin Quick won 15 races for Stitt and Blinkin Artie with six wins, five at the track, is on his way towards that feat. For the first time for any of his gallopers, he has given the mount to in-form Wauchope jockey Mollie Partridge, an apprentice with a 1.5kgs claim.
Stitt said he hoped his galloper was ready to emulate the good Sydney run and even though the gelding is stepping up in distance: "He’ll have no trouble."
It is one of the best races for its class on the Mid North Coast for a long time and there are many in the field capable of winning.
Two of them, five-year-old Kempsey mare Sarasota Bay, trained by Roy Franklin, and nine-year-old gelding Scotty Be Gotti, trained at Tuncurry by David Callaughan, are big last start winners.
Sarasota Bay scored by more than a length over 1506m at Port last Thursday whereas Scotty Be Gotti romped home by 3.25 lengths in the $50,000 Armidale Cup over 1900m on March 3.
Franklin kept his powder dry until he knew how his mare pulled up after a tough run but is obviously pleased with its progress.
Callaughan was very enthusiastic about how old stager Scotty Be Gotti was going: “He is jumping out of his skin and is licking the bin dry." He said his gelding’s “retirement spell” had resulted in three wins for regular jockey Louise Day and had grabbed more than $70,000 in prizemoney.
Taree trainer Ross Dawson didn’t have nine-year-old gelding Clune’s Rocket when it won the Hannam Vale Cup in 2014 but his charge showed there was plenty left in running 5th, beaten just under a length after leading, over 1600m at Scone on March 5: “He’s fit and he has no weight on his back which gives him a hope.”
And look for a big run from resuming seven-year-old Wauchope gelding Alzin, trained by Graham Hoy, which scored well in a barrier trial at Taree recently. The gelding had a similar preparation last campaign and resumed with a second to Shalmanesar in the 2000m Taree Cup last August.
Four-year-old gelding Texas Storm, trained at Taree by Bob Milligan, has its last race before the $500,000 Country Final at The Championships at Royal Randwick early next month in the Cross Family—Como Dairy Class 2 Handicap over 1250m.
RACE 1: Just Sizzling 1, Lobban Hood 2, Supreme Girl 3.
RACE 2: Spirited Belle 1, Ultimate Power 2, Direct Vision 3.
RACE 3: Cliff’s Choice 1, Pinnacle Power 2, Lightsontheharbour 3.
RACE 4: Silver Frost 1, First Pirouette 2, Zizania 3.
RACE 5: Rapid Lover 1, Khitaamy 2, Dream A Lot 3.
RACE 6: Texas Storm 1, King Mombassa 2, Velocano 3.
RACE 7: Blinkin Artie 1, I Wanna Be A Jeep 2, Scotty Be Gotti 3.
RACE 8: Miss Eporetto 1, Dixie Lad 2, Ambitious Prince 3.