By Doug Ryan
Local trainer Karen Owen, Wauchope jockey Belinda Hodder and five-year-old mare Cheat’m could have a big 'girl’s day out' with a win in Manning Valley Race Club’s Gloucester Cup at the TAB meeting at Taree on Tuesday.
The mare has the form to provide a strong hope in the 1000m dash for Benchmark 66 gallopers in a field of nine which has attracted runners from Gosford to Grafton.
Owen only has a small team but they are very competitive, one of them Burn’m scoring first-up from a spell at Taree’s March 15 meeting.
She trains for the owners of the two gallopers, Alec and Li Leopold from Sydney, and has Cheat’m backing up from a neck defeat by Coffs Harbour speedster Gunnaza over 900m at Newcastle on April 13, at the horse's second run after winning a trial from handy Port Macquarie galloper Let’s Rebelle at Taree on March 15.
Cheat’m has had only one start at the track for a win at the distance in August and has other wins at Nowra and Coffs Harbour.
Owen said her mare was “keen in her work and has a lovely attitude - she’s going really well". “And she loves the track and the distance.”
If Cheat’m wins, she will then tackle Provincial company but if she doesn’t and runs a good race, a Highway race in town could be on her agenda.
There is plenty of depth in her opposition and the race should be very competitive.
Rated highly is five-year-old Wyong gelding Nosey (to be ridden by apprentice Jacob Gilchrist), trained by Les Tilley, which in a recent campaign won four races straight and has won here at the distance.
“He won his maiden at Taree and I have freshened him up after he found a race at Gosford too strong. He is not a big horse and after those four wins he has struggled under big weights,” he said.
There are plenty of visitors running in the Cup which have won at the track and distance. One of them is Wauchope six-year-old gelding Stoddart (Peter Graham), trained by Michael O’Neill, which on its first run back from a spell wasn’t disgraced at Grafton.
Wyong’s Dual Escape, trained by Kristen Buchanan, is resuming and is a mare showing her strong form with a second to Valbeata here in January.
Taree trainer Michael Byers has had plenty of luck with Port Gold and Casino Mondial, they winning five races between them at Taree last campaign and they both are having their second starts since a let-up.
Six-year-old mare Port Gold (apprentice Liam Blanch) should be a strong chance in the Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1250m after a resuming run when seventh at Port when she “wouldn’t go an inch on the track.
“She blew up after the run and she gets her chance on Tuesday with promising three-kilo apprentice jockey Liam Blanch in the saddle,” Byers said.
Four-year-old Casino Mondial was not far away in a strong field at Newcastle and although the Class 2 Handicap over 1000m is short of the gelding’s best, Byers believes jockey Grant Buckley could make the difference.