By Rod Fuller
Momentum is building for the Country Championships series with Acoustix heading the main chances in the Panthers Port Mid North Coast Prelude to be conducted at Port Macquarie this Sunday.
The son of Snitzel has been expertly placed by Tas Morton and is attempting to complete the hat-trick following solid victories at Taree and his recent success on home track surroundings in Class 3 company when accounting for Scatter Blast.
With a strong record over the 1200 metre journey and some experience on the rain-affected ground anticipated for the weekend assignment, Acoustix looks well suited and his chances are further enhanced with the engagement of Luke Rolls.
Rolls piloted the flashy chestnut to the two most recent wins and is looking to continue his unblemished record with questions surrounding some of the other main chances in the event.
With Bellastar’s recent victory in the Queen of the North continuing a stellar training period for Wayne Wilkes, it is decision time for the stable regarding Dulette’s appearance in Sunday’s prelude.
The grey gelding has been competitive in metropolitan Highway company when last in work with his acceptance in a similar class event at Warwick Farm on Saturday, following a recent fourth behind Assault’n’bathory, providing some doubt as to the path Wilkes will head.
The stable almost landed the major prize in last year’s $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final when Lucciola Belle ran a gallant second behind Noble Boy with Cartel and Storm Attack providing the other stable representatives in the weekend assignment.
It is significant that Storm Attack is currently placed as an emergency and would gain a start if there are any scratchings, with the Supreme Class gelding racing well enough to be considered a genuine chance.
The Jenny Graham training establishment has tasted success in the final of this prestigious country series with Victorem scoring in 2018 and will have a two-pronged attack in Sunday’s feature,
Foxy’s Foxinator was an impressive winner at Grafton in November with a recent barrier trial performance behind Lord Heron providing plenty of confidence for a solid showing while Magnalane has been freshened up after successive victories at Taree a few weeks ago.
An interesting runner in the event is the Craig Martin-trained galloper, Carillon, with the gelding responsible for an encouraging barrier trial second at Tamworth last week.
The son of Bernardini has been sparingly raced since victory in a Class 3 Highway event at Rosehill back in 2018 but indications are that Carillon may be somewhere near his best form with betting transactions set to provide a good guide.
Oakfield Navajo would be a main chance in the opening event against Sebago and Stonecold Flex with Damien Lane also entering the Supreme Class gelding in a race at Newcastle on Saturday.
It should be worth considering that Stonecold Flex was backed to the exclusion of all other runners two starts ago at Port when third behind Sister Ellie and is backing up after a recent fifth at Tamworth.
Exotic Pearl has the form on the board to be fiercely competitive in the Fillies and Mares Maiden Handicap with the only question being whether the Tracey Bartley trained filly is able to handle the projected rain-affected going (currently a heavy 8).
Other safe wagers on the program centre around Izzat, who deserves to break his maiden status in race three while Eurogem looks well placed later in the day.
The Mid North Coast Country Preview is a pipe opener to the wonderful series where the winner of the $150,000 qualifying heat to be conducted at Taree on 23rd February represents the district in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final at Randwick on 4th April.
It is great to see the continuation of the wonderful partnership enjoyed with Port Macquarie Panthers and all members and guests are welcome to attend the program with the excellent facilities of the Ivan Livermore Stand and surrounds in full operation.
Race 1 – 1.55pm Panthers Backyard Eat/Stay/Play CG&E Maiden Hcp (1206m): 1 Oakfield Navajo, 2 Sebago, 4 Stonecold Flex
Race 2 – 2.30pm Panthers Kove Cafe/Bar/Kitchen F&M Maiden Hcp (1206m): 2 Exotic Pearl, 3 Whatsin, 8 Hanna From Havana
Race 3 – 3.05pm Panthers Pride Maiden Plate (1506m): 1 Izzat, 2 Listen Mate, 11 Serriano
Race 4 – 3.40pm Panthers Meetings and Events BM 58 Hcp (1506m): 10 Eurogem, 1 Power of Wexford, 7 Lucky for Some
Race 5 – 4.15pm The Tapp Bar at Panthers Port Macquarie Class 1 Hcp (1006m): 2 Wild Fortune, 6 Full of Spirit, 7 Supreme Diva
Race 6 – 4.55pm Panther Players - Being Rewarded is Easy BM 58 Hcp (1006m): Zioptimus, 5 Just Sizzling, 6 Penny Dreadful
Race 7 – 5.35pm Panthers Port - MNCRA Championships Preview - Cl 4 Hcp (1206m): 4 Acoustix, 9 Magnalane, 3 Dulette