By Doug Ryan
Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer has mounted a two-pronged attack to go one better than last year and win the $27,000 Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Friday.
His Time Raid, ridden by Samantha Clenton, was beaten just over a length by Casino Mondial, trained at Taree by Michael Byers last year, whereas this year Clenton will be Chocolatier, his other hope being War Cat to be ridden by Christian Reith.
But the race is no easy task with uncertain track conditions (Heavy 8 at present) with the threat of rain and being up against six-year-old Taree gelding Texas Storm from the in-form stable of Bob Milligan.
The Taree galloper has been in super form with a close second in a Highway race at Rosehill and then being beaten less than three lengths at $151 odds when sixth in the $160,000 Newcastle Newmarket over 1400m last Friday, the horse doing its best work over the concluding stages in coming from the rear and the widest.
Milligan’s Charmmebaby romped home in the $150,000 MNCRA’s Country Championships Qualifier at Scone the week before and is a $51 chance on TAB in Sydney tomorrow (Race 9) to finish its preparation for the $500,000 Final at Royal Randwick on April 3.
His son, Glen, said Texas Storm beat some good gallopers home at Newcastle but in Friday’s Cup he is concerned where the gelding will get in running in having drawn the ace barrier: “The one barrier is not ideal as he gets back and needs plenty of galloping room.”
Deamer said four-year-old gelding War Cat “is no bigger than a Shetland pony but even though he is small he tries hard ... he was unlucky at Port Macquarie (2nd over 1500m, March 4)."
“He is very consistent and won over 1450m at Muswellbrook on soft ground two starts back.”
As for six-year-old Redoute’s Choice gelding Chocolatier (NZ) - “It is virtually a Sydney form horse.
“The horse's wins have been at Kembla, Hawkesbury, the Bathurst Cup and at Canterbury. He always carries big weights and has been freshened up since a good fourth on the Kensington Track at Randwick (1800m, soft track, beaten 1.4 lengths, February 3).”
Taree trainer Ross Stitt’s Editors was midfield in last year’s Hannam Vale Cup, has won one race since, and has the same weight as last year. Stitt’s biggest concern is the possibility of a heavy track which is not the best surface for Editors to do his best.
The gelding, which has won three of its seven races at Taree, has been competing in the likes of the Sawtell and Quirindi Cups, its best run being a second on a good track over 1440m in the Walcha Cup on February 5.
“My horse is in good fettle, is enjoying his racing and has a good turn of foot on a good track,” Stitt said.
Another Taree trainer, Tony Ball, is still scratching his head as to why his gelding Senatorial put in such a bad run (8th) at Scone last start.
“I don’t know if it was the track or the trip as he has been in good spirits and is bright as a button at the moment. Back to his home track where he has three wins over the distance could lift his spirits and run a good race,” he said.
Trainer Glen Milligan said the half-sister to Texas Storm, four-year-old mare Stormy Pluck, both bred by Barbara O’Donnell from Pine Lodge at Scone, might run a better race in the Cross Family/Como Dairy Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1300m.
Deamer, who says he loves coming to Taree, has high hopes for three others from his stable in Double Ex, Cooreei Lass and Gumnuts, the latter a last start winner and the other two having third placings at their first starts.
RACE 1: Mon Amore 1, Circus Bound 2, La Roca 3.
RACE 2: Cartography 1, Nicci Knee Knack 2, Double Ex 3.
RACE 3: Pelgrave 1, Cooreei Lass 2, All A Lady 3.
RACE 4: A Fortunate Lass 1, Minifinn 2. Zastarisborn 3.
RACE 5: Lobban Leroy 1, Momack 2, Gumnuts 3.
RACE 6: War Cat 1, Texas Storm 2, Chocolatier 3.
RACE 7: Rocketing To Win 1, Stormy Pluck 2, Two Ducks Artie 3.