By Doug Ryan
The big guns of local training should fight out the finish of the $25,000 Harrington Hotel Harrington Cup (1300m) at Manning Valley Race Club’s 'beach party' TAB meeting at Taree on Wednesday.
Bob Milligan has five-year-old mare Valbeata, two seconds in a new campaign, Michael Byers is aiming for four wins straight with six-year-old mare Port Gold and Ross Stitt has track specialist Blinkin Artie resuming.
Valbeata has been unlucky in two resuming starts for close seconds over 1000m to Newcastle filly Silver Melody and a half-length to Wyong gelding Traumatised over 1250m on December 23. The step up to 1300m and being more seasoned brings the mare right into calculations.
Milligan’s son, Glen, thought he had booked rising apprentice jockey Kyle Wilson-Taylor after he rode the mare last start but Stitt is taking advantage of the lad’s 3kg claim. Valbeata won’t lose anything with the booking of Wauchope apprentice jockey Mollie Partridge who takes a 1.5kg claim and is fresh from a winning treble at Wauchope Jockey Club’s Woop Woop Cup meeting on Boxing Day.
Milligan believes Valbeata “should be ready” third-up from a spell and “hopes she runs a good race again.” He said Valbeata in former preparations got back in the field and rattled home whereas the mare has been running more forward this prep, leading last start from a wide barrier.
“She wanted to race the other day; she shows she is versatile but around third or fourth probably suits best.”
Byers said that although Port Gold had been up a long time, it has taken no effect and “she is thriving".
“She is enjoying what she is doing and the 1300m is probably her best distance. The riding tactics of Wendy Peel (apprentice allowance 2kgs) to keep the mare free rolling is suited and she enjoys it,” Byers said.
Blinkin Artie may be returning from last racing in September but he has had three jump outs to have him ripe for a return. Stitt said: ”He has grown a bit, he is compact, got zip and goes well fresh. Also, he loves the track (four of the gelding’s five wins here from nine starts).”
Blinkin Artie has had five starts at the distance for three wins and a placing, has placed first-up and won second-up. The gelding has prizemoney of nearly $98,000 and should join the $100,000 club with a positive run from Kyle Wilson-Taylor.
Best of the visiting gallopers could be Newcastle’s Tabrobane, trained by Jason Deamer, the horse having form at the provincials and was beaten 3.7 lengths when 8th over 1400m at Newcastle on Boxing Day and has leading NSW jockey Andrew Gibbons in the saddle.
RACE 1: Hard Reality 1, Miss Eimar 2, Uptooit 3.
RACE 2: Marisabel 1, Lock And Launch 2, Money Travels 3.
RACE 3: Haames 1, Western Saga 2, Something Shocking 3.
RACE 4: Weigela 1, Manhattan Gambler 2, East Esplanade 3.
RACE 5: Manangatang 1, Too Easy Bro 2, Gidgee Guy 3.
RACE 6: Valbeata 1, Port Gold 2, Blinkin Artie 3.
RACE 7: Silent Dream 1, Bubbles Ball 2, Cunningah Lass 3.