By Brad Gray
Local trainer Graham Payne was lost for words after his four-year-old Baileys charged home from a seemingly impossible position to win Coffs Harbour’s $150,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Qualifier (1400m).
Tara Jasmine, who started $1.75 favourite for trainer John Shelton, ran second which sees her also represent the Northern Rivers region in qualifying for the $500,000 final to be run at Royal Randwick on Day One of The Star Championships on Saturday, April 3.
Baileys rocketing home to book his place in the final
“It was a bit emotional, I had all of the owners there and plenty of people from Stuart’s Point where my pub is, I was lost for words for the first time a bloke said to me,” Payne laughed.
One of Baileys’ part owners, Brett Groundwater, who was on track at Coffs Harbour, has been in a battle of his own recently.
“Brett owns the Friendly Grocer in the town where I own the pub and he has been pretty sick for a while,” said Payne.
“He had a melanoma and went back the other day and they found another one. I reckon that win will give him the boost that he needs.”
Baileys, who was ridden by Scott Galloway, got shuffled back to second last on the home turn but Payne knew what his galloper was capable of. He never lost faith.
“When I saw him two or three lengths off them at the 200 or 300m I knew he had them, he was just coming so quickly, I just know how well he can finish,” he said.
“His track rider gave him a jump out during the week and she got off him and said 'if he draws a barrier at Coffs Harbour, he’ll just win.'
“We’re all heading back to the pub now and there will be plenty of champagne tonight. It’s been a long, wet day and really that’s the only thing that worried me with Baileys, he can handle a soft track but anything worse he spits the bit out.”
Baileys may have another run ahead of April’s final or there is the option to not run again. That’ll be determined in the coming days.
“He thrives on being kept fresh, swimming and plenty of slow work. The Randwick 1400m will be perfect for him, a lot of trainers believe you have to be a 1500-1600m horse and that’s him,” Payne said.
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) February 13, 2021
TAB Fixed Odds reacted to the first qualifier by shortening Tara Jasmine’s quote from $9 to $8 which sees her the fixed odds favourite at this early stage while Baileys tightened from $51 into $15.