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Grey Veteran "Still Believes He's A Two-Year-Old" (Taree, Sunday)

By Doug Ryan

Six-year-old local mare Eyebea Danser is poised for three wins in a row to continue the good strike rate of trainer Michael Byers in the past couple of months at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Sunday.

A win in the TAB.Com.Au Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1250m would extend the trainer’s winning streak since he took over the mare from a retiring trainer who had one win with her in 22 starts. Byers was so happy with her progress, she winning over 1200m at Coffs Harbour and then over 1300m at Taree, that he took 10% of her ownership.

“She has done everything right since her Taree win from an outside barrier,” Byers said. On that occasion Hall Of Fame jockey Robert Thompson, who has the mount again, was seen at his best in positioning her up with the speed early before scoring by just over a length from Taree’s Monaco Sniper, trained by Wayne Wilkes.

Byers said Eyebea Danser, according to Thompson, tended to stargaze when she hit the front and maybe better suited by being held-up a little more before making her dash. Byers has 10 wins for the season, the bulk of those coming in the past couple of months from a handful of gallopers.

The form of a couple of visitors is hard to line up but there is plenty of opposition provided by some well-credentialled Mid North Coast gallopers. The Mid North Coast Racing Association’s leading trainer on 17 wins this season, Wauchope’s Colt Prosser, concedes everything has to go right for his six-year-old mare Stop The Fight which has won at the track and twice at the distance in notching five wins and 14 placings from 45 starts.

Prosser said she found the grade a bit rich when just over five lengths when seventh to Taree’s Lucciola Belle, trained by Wilkes, in the $60,500 Queen Of The North for Benchmark 74 horses over 1200m at Port Macquarie on January 25: “She peaked a fraction early; everything has to be right for her to do her best.”

Seven-year-old Port Macquarie gelding Dixie Lad, trained by Neil Godbolt, is having its third run back from a spell and on its best form is right in this race. Three of his eight wins have been at Taree, three of them at the distance, and its fourth behind Taree mare Valbeata showed the gelding hadn’t lost its spark.

The Bob Milligan-trained Valbeata has been in solid form since resuming and after the win was responsible for a good run in the Queen Of The North. Then there is the “grey flash”, nine-year-old Clunes Rocket, trained on the track by Ross Dawson, the horse having scored six of its eight wins at Taree, has four wins at the distance, and although not starting since November has a handy record first and second-up from a spell.

“He still thinks he is a two-year-old,” Dawson said of the gelding which has had “no issues” and is still enjoying racing. “He always tries and is still trying but this will be his last preparation. He is a good campaigner and is heading towards the Hannam Vale Cup (March 15 at Taree).”

Randwick trainer John Sargent travels north with three gallopers, one of them being The Drake, in this race and it rates a chance on its provincial form as does Newcastle trainer Paul Perry’s Winner’s Lane in what should be an intriguing event.

Breeder, owner and Taree trainer Robert Barnes holds a glimmer of hope that his six-year-old mare Lobban Hood can run a solid race in the We Race Again 25 Feb Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m.
At her third run back from a spell she was narrowly beaten over 1000m at Tuncurry and since “she hasn’t gone backwards". “She is proven at the track and distance (all of her three wins) and just needs a good barrier,” Barnes said.

RACE 1: Swizeler 1, Absolute Trust 2, Bellastar 3.
RACE 2: Equiseta 1, Lady Grande 2, Delete Repeat 3,
RACE 3: Chouxtorial 1, Bastille Grey 2, Nardini Song 3.
RACE 4: Great Danger 1, Subtle Grey 2, Texas Storm 3.
RACE 5: Hildago 1, Lobban Hood 2, Too Easy Bro 3.
RACE 6: Eyebea Danser 1, The Drake 2, Dixie Lad 3.
RACE 7: Marfaz 1, Takarakka 2, Mister Hootabell 3.

View the final fields with full form & race replays for Taree here

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