By Frances O'Shea
A change of luck at the barriers has Tamworth trainer Sue Grills confident her mare Assurity could go close to emulating last year’s success in the $20,000 Queen Of The Valley Matchmaker at Muswellbrook on Friday.
The six-year-old has drawn barrier one in the field of 12 and after pulling up well from a barrier trial at Tamworth last Friday, Grills is keen for her to resume in the Matchmaker. The 1280m Fillies and Mares event, which has been run for a number of years, is always a popular race with the top five placegetters earning stallion nominations from studs.
Grills said the positive barrier draw and soft track will definitely be a bonus in Assurity’s quest for back-to-back wins.
“I’ve had a bad run at the barriers lately so it’s good to see her draw well,” she said. “I’ve always had it in the back of my mind for her to resume in this race and it will be great if she could make it two in a row.
“She cut her leg in the trailer a couple of months ago and it’s taken a while to get her right again. She went really well in the trial on Friday and her first-up form isn’t too bad. Greg rode her in the race last year and has a good association with her.
“In saying that it’s a tough race and she’s got a lot of weight. She’s not a very big mare so those things aren’t going to help her. She loves the soft track so that’s a bonus. She came down the rails last year on a really wet track, so let’s hope she can do it again.”
The race has attracted a good field, with the Paul Perry-trained Peggy’s Cove hoping to turn the tables on Assurity, after finishing seventh last year. Prontissimo, from the Lees stable, will be the likely favourite resuming from a spell after successive wins.
The three-year-old Charge Forward filly had two wins and a second in her first preparation and has trialled twice leading into the race. She starts from barrier four and with apprentice Louise Day claiming two kilos, will carry 58kg.
Bite The Media also looks to be among the chances for local trainer Dale Wagstaff. The seven-year-old mare, to be ridden by James Innes Jnr, was a winner two starts back at Port Macquarie over the 1106m and wasn’t beaten far at a subsequent start on the same track on June 26.
There are strong acceptances across the eight card meeting with several races attracting capacity fields. Metropolitan runners come from the Waterhouse/Bott, Bjorn Baker, Marc Connors and David Pfieffer stables, while Brett Cavanough has again engaged the services of Queensland based Skye Bogenhuber for his six runners. The first race gets underway at 12.15pm and entry is free.
RACE 1 – 12.15pm: TAB.COM.AU 3YO MAIDEN PLATE (1000m): 1 FOXY QUEEN, 2 Island Gem, 3 Prententious Man, 4 Crystal Pearl.
RACE 2 – 12.50pm: MAGIC MILLIONS 2YO MAIDEN HANDICAP (1000m): 1 KEDAH, 2 Don’t Doubt Arthur, 3 Norske Code, 4 Pluck And Lucky.
RACE 3 – 1.25pm: AD VALOREM @ CANGON STUD MAIDEN PLATE (1280m): 1 OUR LADY VIOLENT, 2 Nothingbutadreamer, 3 St Gallen, 4 Emshalky.
RACE 4 – 2.05pm: BULL POINT @ KINGSTAR FARM BENCHMARK 55 HANDICAP (1750m): 1 ATHENA’S VOICE, 2 Fanny Chenal, 3 Soolaimon, 4 Dorreego.
RACE 5 – 2.40pm: CASINO PRICE @VINERY BENCHMARK 55 HANDICAP (1000m): 1 THORNBRO, 2 Mac’s Reward, 3 Kelsha Begs, 4 Sister Joy.
RACE 6 – 3.15pm: QUEEN OF THE VALLEY MATCHMAKER F&M 65 HANDICAP (1280m): 1 PRONTISSIMO, 2 Assurity, 3 Bite The Media, 4 Peggy’s Cove.
RACE 7 – 3.55pm: LORD OF THE SKY @ KINGSTAR FARM CLASS 1 HANDICAP (1280m): 1 ROAD TO HEAVEN, 2 Explosive Missile, 3 High Rush, 4 Oakfield Twilight.
RACE 8 – 4.35 pm: DUBLEO @ CANGON STUD CLASS 1 HANDICAP (1000m): 1 HAPPY MO, 2 Gidgee Guy, 3 Purple Cup, 4 Trinidad.