By Doug Ryan
A repeat of a home track win by filly Bellastar could move her closer to Country Championships fame at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Monday.
The Wayne Wilkes-trained three-year-old missed out on getting her chance in the $150,000 Qualifier for The Championships at Port Macquarie last Sunday but a win on Monday could provide her with enough points to tackle Muswellbrook Race Club’s $50,000 Wild Card heat for the $500,000 Country Final at Royal Randwick on April 6.
Wilkes already has qualified for the final after his mare Lucciola Belle won the Port qualifier and has reserved faith in the ability of Bellastar.
He said the Kendall-owned filly had pulled up really well and had improved after scoring by nearly two lengths when resuming over 1000m at Taree on February 10.
“If she doesn’t make The Championships this year, she will try again next year.”
Ace Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons, who was seen at his best in landing Lucciola Belle a winner at Port, will again be on Bellastar.
She will be up against a strong field in the Taree Leagues & Sports Club Class 1 Handicap over 1000m where it is notable how many last start winners are engaged.
One of them is Port trainer John Sprague’s four-year-old gelding Chaos Ball which had the fastest time of the day when scoring by more than two lengths over 1000m at Grafton on February 15.
Sprague said jockey Ben Looker told him that the gelding could have won by a bigger margin and had obviously come back from an injury spell in top condition. He had visions of sending Chaos Ball to Sydney for a Highway race tomorrow but had second thoughts and accepted for Taree.
The former Melbourne galloper was bought off the internet for $8000 by 85-year-old Laurieton owner Jan Tate who races the gelding with Port’s Brett Adkins, her daughter Jan Gray and family.
Mrs Tate said the gelding was sent to a vet at Newcastle after it was found that Chaos Ball had a throat noise and bad feet: “We had a lot of trouble with him and he had 10 months off,” she said.
Kempsey trainer and owner of the Macleay Hotel, Roy Franklin, is confident of a big race from his last start winner over 1106m at Port, four-year-old mare Lady Mossman. She then won a trial by just over seven lengths over 1000m at Port last Sunday to add to his confidence.
He has only had the mare for about three months after a string of close finishes for a Warwick Farm trainer.
“She is a lovely mare bred to sprint,” Franklin said. “She has only had two starts for me and was a good buy.”
He said the mare, to be ridden by in-form apprentice jockey Mikayla Weir, had “paid for herself with the win.”
Tuncurry trainer Terry Evans also has a last start winner engaged in four-year-old gelding Call The Game, a half-brother to Sydney winner Arise Augustus, which may be looking for further but is expected to run well.
He has pinned his hopes on big home-track winner, then third placing, five-year-old mare Oakwoods Hope in the De Bortoli Wines Class 1 & Maiden Plate over 2000m: “He has had a month between runs but has been kept up to speed at home,” he said.
RACE 1: Rothman 1, Black Range 2, Lightsontheharbour 3.
RACE 2: Lightning Alley 1, Natural Image 2, Annarose 3.
RACE 3: Oakwoods Hope 1, Charlie Jack 2, Gacela 3.
RACE 4: Sevini 1, Lobban Hood 2, Nosey 3.
RACE 5: Der Meister 1, Miss Zodiac 2, Equiseta 3.
RACE 6: Bellastar 1, Chaos Ball 2, Lady Mossman 3.
RACE 7: Bid ‘N’Bare 1, Hildalgo 2, Fair Dinkum 3.