By Doug Ryan
Two local trainers involved in a dead-heat and then an upheld protest with their gallopers in last year’s $27,000 Harrington Hotel Harrington Cup (1300m) are hoping for less controversy with their new charges in the cup at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Monday.
They marked last year’s result to “that’s racing” whereas both trainers are hoping for good runs with their gallopers in this year’s super-charged field.
Jim Louizos was the eventual winner with Danzibar Dancer ($9) whereas Michael Byers had Eyebea Danser ($10) relegated to second, both trainers shaking hands when the steward’s inquiry result was known.
Louizos tackles this year’s race with $20,000 buy, five-year-old gelding Flash Palace, as for Byers he sold Eyebea Danser for $5000 and used that money to buy former Queensland five-year-old mare Diplomatic Miss.
Byers may have missed out last year but his record in the cup is imposing and he goes into the race confident of a solid run: “Forget her last run, she is in excellent condition and has improved,” he said.
At Diplomatic Miss’s first run for him she half-jumped into the air, was posted three and five wide, and battled to the line 4.36 lengths behind runaway winner Siesta Key, trained at Newcastle by Kris Lees.
“She has taken no harm from the run and jockey Raymond Spokes is sticking with her. It is always nice to win a cup, I love it,” Byers said.
Flash Palace was also beaten by a Lees galloper (8 lengths), No Laughing Matter, when fifth over 1250m on the heavy track at Taree’s last meeting. A highlight of the run was the exceptional backing for the gelding, Louizos saying that the punters who backed his horse “were not stupid” as he expected a better run.
“My horse was carrying a lot of weight and will get relief with that in the cup. He led and only locked up over the last bit in a fast race under the conditions. He has a class record to his name and will be ridden by Belinda Hodder,” Louizos said.
As for last year’s result, he said: ”It was good for competition and excitement in the end.”
The race boasts some top form horses and with the probability of another rain-affected track, there are plenty of chances. One of them is seven-year-old gelding Achi Baba, from the Medowie stable of Grant Marshall, which is resuming after a good campaign when last racing where it earned $28,000 in prizemoney.
The horse has won twice first-up from a spell and Marshall said his gelding has “had plenty of work".
“He only cost $7500 as he had a throat operation before I got him. He is a big, robust horse that likes to bowl along.
“First-up, I reckon he will go good and he has Darryl McLellan to ride him,” he said.
Lees always has a top hope in these types of races and has high hopes with two last start winners at Taree in No Laughing Matter and Siesta Key.
Don’t be surprised to see an improved performance from four-year-old gelding Men In Tights, trained at Taree by Joel and Wayne Wilkes.
The horse has won in the heavy and at the track and connections thought so highly of the galloper that it competed in a Highway race in Sydney in August and after a trial at Tuncurry and 8th behind No Laughing Matter it could be ready to show improvement.
Also in the mix is five-year-old mare She’s Independent, trained at Newcastle by Paul Perry, the galloper having had five starts at Taree for two wins and two seconds. She comes off an 8th at Newcastle over 1350m on December 19 and will be ridden by top local hoop Luke Rolls who has a good record on her.
RACE 3: DUNOON
RACE 6: DIPLOMATIC MISS
RACE 7: LOCHITA