A perfect record at the track and an overdue inside barrier draw has Wyong trainer Ben Hill confident his speedy mare Billabong Cindy will be hard to catch at Taree today.
Billabong Cindy, winner of three of her 10 starts to date, is chasing her third win from as many starts at Taree when she tackles the Saxby's Soft Drinks Benchmark 60 Hcp over 1000m. Importantly, the mare drew the inside gate in the 10-horse field which is a welcome change of luck according to Hill.
"I don't think she's drawn inside another horse in too many of her previous starts, so it's great that she's finally drawn the rails," he said.
Billabong Cindy ($3.30 on TAB fixed odds) has been impressive in her two previous appearances at Taree. She won her maiden there on April 18 last year then set a new class record over the 1007m in winning a Class 2 Hcp in 58.74 on May 15. Billabong Cindy then completed a winning hat-trick by downing a handy field over 900m in a Class 2 at Newcastle on June 17 before Hill gave her a short break.
She returned for two runs in August and September - running fourth at both Wyong and Kembla Grange - before Hill sent her for a longer spell.
"She was impressive in putting together those three wins and then she just wasn't 100 per cent right in those two later runs and the tracks were also probably a bit hard for her," said Hill. "The plan was always just to give her those two runs and then send her for a spell."
Billabong Cindy resumed this campaign at Wyong on January 28 when fourth behind Shudabeen in a Benchmark 67 over 1000m. The mare usually needs that first-up run to bring her on and Hill said she had taken a lot of benefit from that Wyong effort.
"She usually needs that first-up run and she's come through that Wyong race very well," he said. "I'm very happy with her. Dropping back in class second-up and getting back to Taree should make her very hard to catch in Monday's race."
Hill believes the Snippetson mare is up to a suitable city race this preparation and may head that way in the near future.
"We may look at a 1000m race at Warwick Farm for her," he said. "That trip is ideal at the moment, but hopefully she'll eventually run out a strong 1100m and perhaps a bit further."
Billabong Cindy's rivals at Taree on Monday include the Port Macquarie sprinter Laurentian ($10), who is usually competitive over the 1000m at the track. Trainer John Sprague has booked 3kg-claiming apprentice Leah Kilner for the gelding who will now carry 60.5kg.
Others with definite hopes are the Matthew Robinson-trained pair On My Terms ($4.40) and Demoralising ($6) and Newcastle sprinter Merriwa ($2.80 favourite, who also has a handy record at Taree). The rail for today's seven-race meeting will be in the true position and the track is currently rated a good 4.