By Doug Ryan
Two trainers 400km apart are hoping their gallopers can win at Manning Valley Race Club’s eight-race TAB meeting at Bushland Drive Racecourse, Taree, on Sunday.
They are Warwick Farm’s Garry Neale with four-year-old gelding Mister McIlroy and Wayne Wilkes from Taree with four-year-old gelding Sniponet. The two have accepted for the Boyd Cordner Benchmark 60 Handicap (1412m) but it is hoped Wilkes will avoid the clash by running in the Manning Valley Born State Of Origin Winners Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1614m).
Sniponet is first emergency in Mister McIlroy’s race, where he will be hard to beat if it gets a run, but is much better suited in the other where it should start a short-priced favourite.
Neale had Mister McIlroy accepted for Kembla Grange but decided on the Taree trip before that meeting was postponed due to heavy rain and the state of the track.
He said he didn’t mind the travelling, was impressed with the track, and on one previous visit won with Thirty Knots over 1000m at Bushland Drive on May 14. He has only had Mister McIlroy for five starts for a win at Nowra and a last start win at Goulburn over 1400m on June 18.
The former Chris Waller-trained galloper was bought for $11,000 whereas the gelding fetched around $280,000 as a yearling. His galloper, nicknamed 'Rory' is in good form according to Neale and has won on good and wet surfaces. "He had to find himself but he is right on now.”
Jockey Adrian Layt has been on Mister McIlroy for its two wins and is making the trip to Taree to ride the gelding again. Before Neale bought the galloper it had run fourth at Canterbury, was placed second and third on the Newcastle Beaumont Track, one time finishing behind promising Osborne Bulls, and had four starts in Victoria for a third at Moe.
Mister McIlroy is meeting a pretty handy field with the rail out 3m for the entire track, which at last reading was a soft 6. One of its threats could be five-year-old local mare Lady Veronique, trained by Michael Byers, which will have to improve from a nearly 10 lengths last at Coffs Harbour to be in the hunt - but there were excuses for that poor run as jockey Glen Colless thought she got her tongue over the bit and she is wearing a tongue-tie this time.
Sniponet deserves a win after its great fourth to Brazen in the Wauchope Cup at Port Macquarie last week and is suited by race three as against the other. It gets its chance to make it win two, along with nine placings, from 17 starts.
RACE 1: Dragoneight 1, Loban Hood 2, Patriot 3.
RACE 2: Miss Zodiac 1, Dew Drop 2, Sugarland Express 3.
RACE 3: Sniponet 1, Stellara 2, Eye Was 3.
RACE 4: Wee Rascal 1, Just Sizzling 2, Bubbles De Beer 3.
RACE 5: Wild Kingdom 1, Pullman Brown 2, El Casco 3.
RACE 6: Mister McIlroy 1, Sniponet (emerg.) 2, Keemon 3, Lady Veronique 4.
RACE 7: Miss Alspice 1, Stop The Fight 2, Dark Elixir 3.
RACE 8: Kendalman 1, Akamin 2, Ministry Of Fear 3.