By Doug Ryan
Local gelding Casino Mondial could pick up a bonus $27,000 Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup at Taree on Friday on its way to compete in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships at Royal Randwick on April 4.
The five-year-old gelding, trained by Michael Byers, adds glamour to a star-studded field in the cup over 1600m after being beaten a half-head in the $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier at Taree on February 23.
In the Qualifier, Casino Mondial in sporting blinkers for the first time, knuckled over at the start, was posted three and four-wide and in another stride would have beaten Port Macquarie’s Magnalane, trained by Jenny Graham.
It was a remarkable effort for a galloper which was off the scene for nearly a year after being operated on for a tumour at the top of a leg when a three-year-old.
Byers said Casino Mondial was lucky to be alive let alone going on to register four wins and six placings in 13 starts.
“My horse was only 80 percent fit in the Qualifier and although now fitter, he needs a solid hit-out for Sydney.
“The 1400m of the Country Championships Final will be like a 1600m race and the cup should offer him excellent grounding for the event.
“I reckon he is ready for the mile of the cup, the only drawback could be a wet track even though it was a heavy nine when he last raced at Taree in the Qualifier.”
The popular race for the Hannam Vale community is always supported by residents coming on a special bus and they should be excited to watch the clash between top gallopers from Grafton, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Kempsey.
Another galloper which ran an excellent race for fifth in the Taree Qualifier is four-year-old gelding Chamisal, trained at Port by John Sprague, which will be ridden by the MNCRA’s leading jockey, Andrew Gibbons from Newcastle.
That run was the horse's first for five weeks and Sprague believes the gelding has shown improvement since: “He has pulled up very well and he should be able to run closer than near last in the Qualifier and be very competitive.”
The gelding, owned by a family syndicate of 'girls' headed by 86-year-old Jan Tate, of Laurieton, was up for sale late last year but has since won over 1506m at Port before given a reprieve from being sold: “He likes it at home too well and could later be looking for 2000m,” Sprague said.
Interesting runner is Newcastle’s Time Raid which won at Taree on January 20 and in its third run since was third (two lengths) over 1412m in heavy ground at Wyong on Tuesday.
The horse's trainer, Jason Deamer, said the gelding, to be ridden by-in-form Samantha Clenton, had pulled up well, had licked its feed bin dry, should be suited by 1600m and is suited by heavy ground.
“Time Raid was on the fence and didn’t get out until late at Wyong and has been given a freshen up since,” he said.
Another in the mix is Taree five-year-old gelding Editors, trained by Ross Stitt, which has won three races at the track and being down in the weights after some handy runs could figure here.
In its last three runs, the horse was fourth (less than a length) to I’ve Got This here over 1600m, was fifth in the Inverell Cup over 1400m and fifth to Time Raid here over 1412m on January 20.
Grafton’s Melted Moments, trained by David Campbell, has had five wins at its past eight runs, whereas Sawtell, trained at Coffs Harbour by Brett Dodson, has shown good form with handy runs at home, Rosehill, Randwick and Doomben, in what should be a top race.
The rider of Casino Mondial, Raymond Spokes from Coffs Harbour, also has a top hope in Taree’s Gold Bracelet, trained by Ross Dawson, a winner and an unlucky second here last start in only three starts, in the Apex Solar and Electrical Class 1 Handicap over 1000m.
RACE 1: From The Hip 1, Tough Case 2, Badge Of Honour 3.
RACE 2: Urbino 1, Under The Pump 2, Murtslad 3.
Race 3: Noble Cause 1, Stonecold Flex 2, Belle de Lune 3.
RACE 4: Monica’s Star 1, Take To Heart 2, I’ll Take Money 3.
RACE 5: Gold Bracelet 1, Fender 2, Peachies Dream 3.
RACE 6: The Light Of Day 1, Inwithachance 2, Lobban Hood 3.
RACE 7: Casino Mondial 1, Time Raid 2, Chamisal 3.
RACE 8: Schemer 1, Sebago 2, Bellarina Magic 3.