By Doug Ryan
Newcastle trainer Steve Hodge would love his rising 10-year-old gelding Lucky Ima Cugat to upstage some probable Taree Cup aspirants at Manning Valley Race Club’s eight-race TAB meeting at Taree on Friday.
A win by his galloper would make it 10, take the gelding’s prizemoney to $200,000 and earn him retirement at his 99th start. Lucky Ima Cugat comes up against an even field in the Taree Cup Carnival 17 & 19 August Benchmark 65 Handicap over 2000m where some trainers will be assessing paths for their gallopers towards the $80,000 Cup over the same distance on August 19.
Hodge reckons his galloper deserves to win 10 races—“not many horses can do that". "I hope he can win and retire as he has been a good old horse. He is only small and has trouble carrying weight but his last run for second to Jason Deamer’s horse (Latin Light) at Newcastle was good.”
That was over 2330m but Luck Ima Cugat has won at 2000m and has a win and two placings from seven starts at Bushland Drive Racecourse, Taree.
Fellow Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, leading the trainer’s number of wins at this track, has two top hopes in four-year-old mare Face Like Thunder and La Biere Choisie with his two top stable jockeys on board.
Lees won the Taree Cup with Olympic Academy in 2016 and both his gallopers are primed to make the step into country cup company. Face Like Thunder was second over 1900m in a class 4 race at Gosford before running third to Chantilly Chateau over 2018m at Port Macquarie on June 18.
La Biere Choisie has had two placings from two starts at the track and was runner-up in one race over 2000m. At its last two starts it has been runner-up to Salad Dodger over 1506m at Port Macquarie and behind Cuban Lass over 2000m at Mudgee.
Taree six-year-old gelding Chalcedony, trained by Matthew Robinson, has been showing a liking to races around 2000m and two starts back beat home Face Like Thunder in Chantilly Chateau’s race. Chalcedony has been close up in the Wingham and Wauchope Cups this campaign and four starts back scored over 1609m in the heavy at Taree.
Taree trainer Ross Dawson only has a small team but two of them could give him a good sight. They are rising 9yo gelding Clunes Rocket in the Over $30K Prizemoney 17 & 19 August Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1600m and Let Me Guess in the Office@ManningValleyRaceClub.Com.Au 3YO Maiden Handicap over 1300m.
Clunes Rocket is no stranger to the track where five of its seven wins have been recorded and two starts back it was fourth in Chalcedony’s race.
Dawson said three weeks between races had the gelding blowing up when seventh over 1600m at Scone and since then the galloper has thrived in his work: “He has carried 60.5kgs to win before and should find this race more to his liking.”
As for four-year-old mare Let Me Guess, a $500 purchase, she was a good second at this track last start and will again appreciate its better barrier. Taree trainer Robert Barnes has engaged 4kg claiming apprentice jockey Melea Castle in the hope of making it four wins at the track for five-year-old mare Lobban Hood in a top class Carnival Bookings Open Class 3 Handicap over her pet distance of 1000m.
RACE 1: Huey 1, Peyton Place 2, Without Conviction 3.
RACE 2: Grand Exit 1, Let Me Guess 2, Poet’s Blush 3.
RACE 3: Second Island 1, Loban Hood 2, Invincible Gangsta.
RACE 4: Andriana 1, Annie Saturday 2, Miss Zodiac 3.
RACE 5: Yazir 1, Falsified 2, Wonderful Thing 3.
RACE 6: Bolwarra Ben 1, Crossing Guard 2, Financial 3.
RACE 7: Lucky Ima Cugat 1, Face Like Thunder 2, La Biere Choisie 3.
RACE 8: Clunes Rocket 1, The Outcast 2, Surf Coast 3.