By Doug Ryan
Local trainer Ross Stitt reckons the “bonus” TAB meeting at Bushland Drive Racecourse at Taree provides an advantage to his team of runners on Monday. He grabbed two winners at the Friday and Sunday meetings on the Taree Gold Cup weekend and being at home could add to this tally.
The stable the year before had five winners on those days and Monday’s Wauchope Jockey Club meeting being transferred from Port Macquarie to Taree is in his favour. The feature Wauchope RSL Club Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1400m sees him believing that four-year-old gelding Editors will run a prominent race.
It was one of the favourites when an unlucky 8th (beaten 5.11 lengths) in a similar benchmark race over 1600m at Bushland Drive Racecourse on cup day. The former Godolphin galloper, bought for $22,000, has paid its way with three wins (two of them here) and three placings for prizemoney of $65,000 in 14 starts. This time senior jockey Matt McGuren takes over from an apprentice.
“You can forget his last run as he got into a bit of strife. He has been going good since,” Stitt said.
Editors will find plenty of opposition, no more so than six-year-old Armidale gelding New Endeavour, trained by Stirling Osland, which was second to Rosehill galloper Triple Choice in Editors' race.
Osland said his gelding was caught wide and didn’t have an easy run in being beaten 1.71 lengths: “I am hoping for a better run,” he said.
Always hard to beat are gallopers from the Newcastle stable of Benjamin Smith. His five-year-old gelding Chilcotin was a big winner over 1450m at Quirindi on August 13 and should be further improved at its third run back from a spell.
Taree trainer Wayne Wilkes has one of the most consistent gallopers going around in five-year-old gelding Sniponet and it is a chance after a handy third to Scatter Blast over 1400m here on August 17.
Sniponet has had 19 starts for two wins and 10 placings and both wins, along with seven of the placings in 11 starts have been at this track. Stitt’s other runners include his wife Maxine’s gelding Syrah which has the blinkers back on in the hope of a better run in the Wauchope Real Estate Class 2 Handicap over 1250m: “He is such a solid horse that it has taken him longer to get fit,” Stitt said.
Six-year-old mare I’ll Take Money may live up to her name in the Hastings Co-op Farm Supplies Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m. She was only just over a length away when fifth behind Fear Factor over 1000m here on August 17. Stitt also should be in the mix with last start winner Esplanade, consistent Natural Image and She Clangs.
One of the better bets on the card could by five-year-old mare Lucciola Belle, a sister to now-retired Shotgun Roulette, in the Wauchope Motel Class 1 Handicap over 1400m. The horse flew home for a short head second to Sydney filly Fearless Girl here over 1250m on cup day and the extra distance suits.