By Doug Ryan
The Taree stable of Bob Milligan could be in for a big day with Country Championship Qualifiers competing in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Championships Final at Royal Randwick and at Manning Valley Race Club’s upgraded TAB meeting at Taree on Saturday.
Racegoers will be in for a treat as they can watch both races on the big infield screen at Taree’s attractive seven-race card and take advantage of the TAB or bookmakers' prices about their fancies.
Four-year-old mare Charmmebaby ($41 into $26 on TAB) is aiming for its sixth win this campaign in the Country Championships Final over 1400m at Royal Randwick whereas six-year-old gelding Texas Storm, second in a MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier in 2019 before running unplaced in the $500,000 Final in Sydney, is aiming for its fourth win in the Seal Air Class 3 Handicap over 1250m at Taree.
Full fields and top local gallopers in action should be enough to have racegoers forget the floods and COVID-19 and enjoy some top-line racing action, headed by the $3million The Star Doncaster Mile on a $10m card at Royal Randwick.
Adding to the “food for thought” form of Texas Storm is that the gelding was third (1.84 lenghts) to 7yo Port Macquarie gelding Subtle Grey at Taree in February 2019. Subtle Grey was second to Charmmebaby in the local qualifier this year and is in the Sydney Final.
Trainer Glen Milligan, son of Bob Milligan, has been looking after the team and although he will be in Sydney he will be tuned to Taree’s races. Not only has Bob got Texas Storm in the Taree race but Glen’s 7yo mare Hold All Tickets is also a starter in another race.
Texas Storm would have been a short-priced favourite in the Hannam Vale Cup at Taree last month but for it and two subsequent follow-up races it was nominated for being cancelled due to the wet. The gelding had only been beaten a half-length in a Sydney Highway before a less than three lengths run in the $160,000 Newcastle Newmarket over 1400m before the abandoned Taree meeting.
“Not having a run for about a month has Texas Storm nice and fresh for the 1250m race on Saturday,” Glen said. “Sometimes he does a few things wrong but he has ability.”
The feature race the Wingham Tigers Wingham Beef Exports Cup Benchmark 50 Handicap over 1400m is wide open but an each-way chance at odds could figure.
Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer is banking on veteran, prolific-winning jockey Robert Thompson, to give him a big hope with last start winner three-year-old Sepoy filly Shakti.
“She won at Port Macquarie at her third start and was first-up with no trial. She should show good improvement and I am confident she will handle the distance,” Deamer said.
Taree trainer Jim Louizos is confident that 5yo gelding Flash Palace is much fitter than when sixth in the local Country Championships Qualifier after being sidelined at vital stages during the floods: “He should get cover or a trail and be able to use his speed,” he said.
Six-year-old mare Maid Marilyn, trained at Port Macquarie by John Sprague, is in a suitable race and just needs luck and firmer going. Two starts back Newcastle gelding Essoess, trained by Mark Minervini, won and it has been consistent this campaign to again to be in the mix.
RACE 1: ROMAN CANDLE 1, I’M JACKO 2, EUROSYMBOL 3.
RACE 2: RAMSEY’S LAW 1, LA ROCA 2, DISMISSAL 3.
RACE 3; MARKWELL DREAMER 1, RUTTO 2, WRITTEN VERSE 3.
RACE 4: NEVADA SMOKE KATAWAY 2, ANY IDEA 3.
RACE 5: TEXAS STORM 1, RUMPSHAKER 2, LOBBAN LEROY 3.
RACE 6: SHAKTI 1, FLASH PALACE 2, ESSOESS 3.
RACE 7: GIRLS KICK ON 1, MINIFINN 2, MEYISTI 3.