By Julieanne Horsman at Clarence River Jockey Club
During the 2018 Country Championships series there hasn’t been a shorter priced starter than Snitz. The Mathew Dunn-trained gelding had won his three previous starts at Doomben and was sent out for the Northern Rivers qualifier at Grafton a $1.55 favourite.
The field of 14 got away fairly evenly and Paul Smith’s mare Ferniehirst (Ben Looker) took up the running as expected. As they rounded the turn for home Snitz was in the last six stuck on the fence but then he showed why he deserved to be so well backed. Regular jockey Robbie Fradd guided Snitz through a gap and he took off, running down horse after horse until it was just him and Ferniehirst out in front. The gutsy mare gave it her all but Snitz was too strong, claiming victory by a little under a length.
“On horses like this you don’t worry too much as the minute the split comes they pick themselves up and they quicken up nicely, which he did,” Fradd said. “It was good chase.”
It’s the second time Murwillumbah’s Mathew Dunn has trained the NRRA Country Championships winner, having taken out last year’s race with Perfect Dare who was also an odds-on favourite. The experience didn’t make it any less nerve-wracking for Dunn and his team though.
“It didn’t quite unfold as we thought it would,” he said. “The winner was a bit further back than planned but a good ride from Robbie and a bit of luck in running got him home.”
“I think his dominance showed in the end. He was decisive to come back and win after being further back.
“It’s very satisfying and a relief. When they get home it’s such a relief.”
The win was a perfect tonic for owner/buyer Jim Kennedy who has been unwell lately. Living in Brisbane, he wasn’t up to making the three and a half hour drive to Grafton. He didn’t want to miss out on the experience though so his family chartered a helicopter and they flew to the course.
“They’ve had horses with me for a few years now and they’ve put a lot of faith in me,” Dunn said. “They’re a great family and it’s nice to see people so enthusiastic they’re willing to go to extreme lengths to see their horse.”
Snitz won’t run again between now and the $500k Country Championships Grand Final at Royal Randwick on 7th April. Instead he will have a trial or a jumpout at home.
“He’s not a huge robust horse that needs massive amounts of work,” Dunn said. “He won today second up over 1400m so we’ll just float him through, he’ll improve and hopefully he will be there in the finish of the final.”
Snitz is now $6 on TAB fixed odds for the Country Championships final while Ferniehirst is at $26. South Eastern Districts winner Kopi Luwak heads the market at $4.60.
Scone Race Club hosts the Hunter and North West Region qualifier next Sunday.