By Doug Ryan
The TAB.Com.Au Class 3 Handicap over 1000m looms as an important race at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree on Monday as trainers eye the heats of the rich Provincial and Country Championships next month.
Trainers will be using upcoming races to assess whether the provincial horses tackle the $150,000 heats at Newcastle on February 27, Gosford on March 13 or Wyong on March 27 whereas the two major country $150,000 heats will be held at Coffs Harbour on February 13 and at Taree on February 21.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees as always has a strong hand with four-year-old mare Illecebrous with three wins from eight starts. The horse was beaten eight lengths when resuming from a let-up at Newcastle on December 5 and has won second-up.
Some of the country’s handy gallopers line-up in what should be a terrific race. Coffs Harbour four-year-old gelding Pace Stick, trained at Coffs Harbour by Brett Dodson, may have missed a vital race in preparation for the championships heat at Coffs Harbour but he could be strong enough to score its fourth win at its ninth start.
“He won well at Taree (1250m in October) and won a barrier trial at Ballina by nearly six lengths on January 2,” Dodson said. “He is a big lad, over 17 hands, and a track in the softish zone probably suits him best.
“It has taken a bit of time for the penny to drop but he was a good fourth in a Highway in Sydney in September,” he said.
Wauchope four-year-old gelding Tallis, trained by Colt Prosser, won a Highway over 1100m in the Highway on the Kensington Track at Randwick in July and has had two runs in the Highways at Royal Randwick in December, its last one resulting in a 12th, beaten 7.7 lengths, but there were excuses.
“The tongue-tie came off and he swallowed his tongue,” Prosser said. “He was also pretty tired due to the long trips, the last one on raceday.”
Taree owner-trainer Coralie Burnett is looking forward to the resuming run of four-year-old gelding Lobban Leroy, twice winner from only five starts, one over the distance at Taree.
“He is amazing; big and strong. He is no longer a boof-head or larrikin Leroy as his brain has really matured,” she said.
Lobban Leroy impressed with a jump-out at Newcastle just over a week ago, is eating well and “is really happy”.
Taree five-year-old gelding Dr Demon, trained by Bob Milligan for himself and Dr Peter Braude should be improved after a resuming third over 1012m in the heavy at Coffs Harbour on December 30 in the same race.
“He handles the heavy and can only improve,” said Milligan’s son, Glen. Glen Milligan is also hoping for an improved run from seven-year-old mare Hold All Tickets in the Horsepower Class 2 over 1300m.
“It has had one win for me at Walcha and about nine placings in 15 starts. Her runs have been good and she normally comes to hand quickly,” he said.
Port Macquarie four-year-old gelding Stonecold Flex, trained by Tas Moron, won easily at Coffs Harbour last start and is on track for the Championships in the same race.
DOUG’S EACH-WAY TIPS
RACE 5: STONECOLD FLEX
RACE 6: PACE STICK