By Julieanne Horsman at Dubbo Turf Club
Jake Pracey-Holmes has his sights set on the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final after piloting an outside chance to victory in the Western Region Heat for the second year in a row.
In 2017 he won admirers from far and wide when he saluted about crowd favourite Stoneyrise who had literally come from the back of Bourke to compete.
This year his mount didn’t have to travel as far. Good Host strolled across to the race day stalls from Justin W Stanley’s stables at Dubbo Racecourse.
Good Host was sent out a $26 chance and the plan was to try and lead but the race didn’t unfold that way.
“They were just too quick for us out of the gates,” Pracey-Holmes said. “I tried to get into a position but ended up three deep so I just tried to keep him travelling as best I could. I’d ridden against him a couple of times and I knew he was tough.”
At the turn for home Good Host was in the middle of the field with plenty of space in front of him. Pracey-Holmes popped the question and for a moment he looked spent but then he lifted. At the same time, Sea Lady (Rachael Murray) started to wind up down the outside and as they kicked away from the field the duel was on. The finish was so close it took officials more than a minute to decide but in the end Good Host was declared the winner.
“Justin did tell me before the race he’s a very hard horse to ride and you’ve got to be very vigorous,” he said.
That vigour has resulted in six days on the sideline for Pracey-Holmes as he admitted to using the whip several times more than permitted. It was a similar story for Murray but both will have finished serving their suspensions in time to ride in the Country Championships Final.
“It was the biggest race I’ve won since last year,” he said. “I’ve just got to go to town and win the big one now!”
Trainer Justin W Stanley missed out qualifying a horse for last year’s Country Championships Final but made up for it today with four runners in the heat.
“I was checking them all throughout the race but towards the end I was barracking for the one out there on his own,” he said. “I didn’t realisze I’d run third as well.
“I’d brought him back from the mile to 1400m so he’s super fit and I was expecting him to run a real top race.
“I’m looking forward to having a few tonight and I’m going to be a bit dusty in the morning.”
Owners Don and Jan Grimshaw purchased Good Host from Melbourne about a year ago specifically for the Country Championships. He cost them close to $30,000 and won almost three times that today
Good Host and Sea Lady will join Victorem and Shelley Beach Road (Mid North Coast) Kopi Luwak and Pumpkin Pie (South East Region) Cosmologist and Noel’s Gift (Central Districts) O’ So Hazy and Bennelong Dancer (Southern Districts) and Suncraze and Caerless Choice (Hunter and North West) in the final. Two more horses who have missed out in their local heat will also earn a spot in the final at next week’s $50,000 wildcard qualifier at Muswellbrook Race Club which is shaping up to be red hot.
Good Host has been inserted as a $101 chance for the final. Suncraze and Kopi Luwak remain favourites.
Off the track the launch of the new Western Region Fashion Series at Dubbo todaywas a hit with dozens of well-dressed racegoers lining up to compete. Each entrant earns points for participating in fashions on the field heats at Dubbo, Narromine, Coonamble and Bourke and bonus points are awarded for the top three. The 20 ladies and 10 men with the most points at the end of the year are invited to compete in a final where the major prize is an $8,000 diamond ring.