By Doug Ryan
Taree trainer Tony Ball has all bases loaded at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Monday with four handy gallopers with different missions.
For gelding Senatorial, it is on the path to try and claim a start in the $100,000 Taree Cup in August, for gelding Makuba and new stable mare Boom Queen, it is to fight out the feature sprint and for filly Modify it is to win her maiden.
“It is my biggest number of runners since I returned to training at Taree,” Ball said. ”You have to nominate to see who is in ... and have a go.
His greatest dream is to win the Taree Cup over 2000m on August 23 and he is grooming his four-year-old to give him a shot, its first race back being the Saxby’s Soft Drink CG&E Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1400m on Monday.
After Senatorial ran third to Into The Oblivion over 1800m at Port Macquarie on March 5, Ball earmarked Monday’s meeting for the gelding’s march towards cup day.
In a short preparation, the gelding won over 1600m at Taree, then over 2018m at the same track, before an unlucky third (less than half-length) to Cap’s Boy over 1800m in a $75,000 Highway race over 1800m at Randwick on February 15. On each occasion apprentice jockey Mikayla Weir was the rider and she again takes the mount.
“Senatorial has been ticking over fine and can run well fresh from a spell. His next race will be over a mile and then a 1800m Highway at Rosehill early August," Ball said. “All going well, he might get into the cup field with a light weight."
Six-year-old Makuba wasn’t disgraced when fourth over 1000m to Mr Polar at Taree on June 5 after wins at Kempsey and Tuncurry and it and Boom Queen clash in the TAB Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m. The Kempsey and last Taree race were near or track records over 1000 and Makuba is the type that can take a sit or lead to be in the finish.
“He was going to race at Coffs Harbour but it was abandoned; my horse is ready to strike. It has been nearly ready for a spell but keeps ticking over with fast runs.”
As for four-year-old Boom Queen in the same race, it recently joined the stable from trainer Matthew Smith in Sydney and is having its first race for Ball since a second at Hawkesbury in August.
Ball’s son, Michael, had a share in the mare when it raced for wins at Taree and Goulburn for Smith and when it was listed online for sale, Ball bought her for $3300 and syndicated its ownership with family and a group of others who have never raced a galloper.
Ball has secured great strike rate jockey Aaron Bullock to ride the mare, he making a comeback after battling with weight issues. It is an even field and one which could make its presence felt is resuming six-year-old mare Hold All Tickets which gave Taree trainer Glen Milligan his first win when it scored at Walcha last campaign.
“The horse had numerous placings and was unlucky not to win first-up at Taree last preparation,” Milligan said. “It got hammered in the run."
He said a six-week freshen up had her going terrific and she handled a jump out well. Also in the mix is four-year-old Port Macquarie gelding Just Sizzling which was a good third to Lobban Hood here on May 25 and should appreciate this class.
As for three-year-old filly Modify (emergency) in the Super Dry 3.5 Maiden over 1250m, it is backing up from a fourth at Port to Always Hot, trained at the track by Marc Quinn, and it will be ridden by Ray Spokes.
“It was only beaten a couple of lengths and as it learns it is getting better,” Ball said. “We can only try. If you are not in it, you can’t win it,” he added.
Drying weather should keep improving the track where the rail is out 4m from the 1000m to the winning post and 3m for the rest of the circuit, limiting fields to 12 starters.
RACE 1: The Neon Knight 1, Minifinn 2, Lilly Pilly 3.
RACE 2: Dunoon 1, Flying Mojo 2, Honovi 3.
RACE 3: Syncline 1, New York Nick 2, Modify (emerg.)
RACE 4: Dream Song 1, Money Heist 2, Fantasy Eagle 3.
RACE 5: Makuba 1, Boom Queen 2, Hold All Tickets 3.
RACE 6: Good Excuse 1, Gwenybegg 2, Mahervellous 3.
RACE 7: Senatorial 1, Condover Hall 2, Dragoneight 3.