By Mark Brassel
Dubbo-based trainer Justin Stanley is hoping to turn the clock back a couple of years by submitting four entries in next Sunday’s $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier on his home course.
Stanley had his first crack at the rich qualifiers with Something Borrowed in 2016 and the gelding duly saluted before finishing a sound eighth to Clearly Innocent in the Final at Royal Randwick.
“The Country Championships is fantastic for bush racing and I was lucky enough to win one on my first try,” Stanley said.
The trainer will be nominating Coming in Hot, Good Host, Party Bag and Incision, with all four gallopers racing in solid form. Stanley summed up their prospects: -
“I have had the qualifier in mind for twelve months and each of these horses will be cherry ripe for the race,” Stanley declared.
“Coming in Hot ran last year but was unplaced, although he’s a better horse now. He was still a bit of a colt then and his mind was on the girls so he wasn’t interested.
“He’s now a gelding and forget he ran the other day (seventh at Coonamble) as the track was too hard for him. He’s a nice horse and will improve out of sight with the Dubbo track sure to have more cushion.
“We haven’t had any rain but the course will be irrigated so he’ll be much more comfortable with the softer surface.
“We purchased Good Host from Victoria expressly for this race. He won well at Coonamble last time and showed a lot of fight. He is more of a 1600m horse so I’ve freshened him for the drop back in distance.
“Party Bag is another who won at Coonamble and is hitting his peak. We probably spelled him a little too long as it’s taken him three runs to come good but now he’s right where we want him.
“He is another we bought from Victoria and is a pretty smart galloper. He’s tough and will be 100% right for the Dubbo qualifier.
“And Incision is another that you just have to put a rule through his last run. An apprentice rode him and gave it no chance as he kicked up and went too fast in the lead.
“He’d previously led all the way at a more suitable tempo to win at Gunnedah and he’ll be a much happier horse ridden more patiently. He’s a good honest galloper.”
Last year’s Dubbo qualifier was a memorable one with Stoneyrise storming home to victory and becoming a cult hero on his way to the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick.
James Hatch trains the horse in Hungerford near the NSW-Queensland border 200km past Bourke, and it famously took him three days to float Stoneyrise to Randwick for the big occasion where he was unplaced behind Free Standing.