By Doug Ryan
Local galloper Texas Storm, one of 150 nominations for Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Tuesday, can cause a problem storm for his opposition if the gelding decides to race at home.
Taree trainer Bob Milligan’s son, Glen, said the five-year-old was nominated for a race at Coffs Harbour on Sunday and the Galoots Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1250m at Taree on Tuesday.
Weather forecasting rain and a conference with owners will finally decide where Texas Storm starts but no matter the venue, the gelding will be hard to beat.
Glen said the gelding was “still bright as a button and it would be nice to get a win before he spells. He has had about 20 starts since being in work at the start of December.”
Texas Storm’s last win was over 1405m in heavy ground at Coffs Harbour on May 22 but since he has shown good form with a second over 1400m at Taree and on July 11 was fourth, beaten just over five lengths, in a strong Highway race behind Rothenburg over 1400m at Rosehill when posted wide most of the journey.
Newcastle's record-winning trainer Kris Lees and Warwick Farm trainer Marc Connors have strong nominations at the meeting and are represented in noms for this race.
Lees and his stable jockey Andrew Gibbons had a win at Canterbury on Wednesday and no doubt will be relying on three-year-old filly Illecebrous in this race. She has only had six starts for three wins, scoring over 1206m at Port Macquarie on June 23 and then winning again over 1100m at Grafton on July 8.
Connors has nominated six-year-old mare Sensacova, she having won four races from 45 starts and is starting fresh after a barrier trial when 7th at home.
Lees with 10 nominations overall and Connors with three are capable of having a good meeting in country company. Also in their Galoots race are a couple of local gallopers with plenty of potential.
One is three-year-old gelding Stonecold Flex, trained at Port Macquarie by Tas Morton, which won at Taree in March before a spell and since has been most unlucky not to win. At the galloper’s last start over 1300m at Taree, the gelding was handy all the way before a second to Scorched Land.
“He has pulled up great and done a treat since,” Morton said. “He deserves a win and will probably have a few more runs before a spell and then being aimed at the Country Championships.”
Local trainer Ross Stitt is hoping for a good barrier and firmer track to have four-year-old gelding Fair Dinkum winning the Book Now Taree Cup Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m.
Australia’s most-winning jockey Robert Thompson retains the mount after a gallant second after being posted three-wide behind Invincible Kiss over the same distance here last meeting.
Dangers appear to be last start Taree winner Lilly Pilly from the stable of Nathan Doyle from Wyong and Wauchope Trainer Col Prosser’s Chief Havoc which has won its past two starts from a spell at Port Macquarie.
Prosser has an exciting newcomer in Highbury in the Stacks Law Firm Maiden Plate over 1250m and Stitt is keen on the chances of resuming Oh So Hot in the Adrian Owen Equine Vet Class 2 Handicap over 1250m.