By Tony Megahey
On Queanbeyan’s biggest race day, esteemed local and footy tragic Joe Cleary is as hard to beat at home as his admired neighbours, the NRL Canberra Raiders who are sure to be in attendance.
Joe always targets Sunday’s annual TAB Queanbeyan Cup and Thunderbolt occasion, and invariably provides the strongest possible punting insight into his numerous runners and form. And just as vitally Joe is on speed with those of his main dangers.
“Super day - as a kid, the races with my dad Frank, the footy for the Queanbeyan Blues and the Raiders. Great bond between them, still is,'' Cleary said.
“We always try to give our owners and supporters a winner or two. We’ve got some cheeky chances all day. It always draws some strong city opposition so hopefully we’ll snag some value.”
Cleary is represented throughout the eight-race programme, and Tag And Release is value striving for a recent winning treble in the Queanbeyan Leagues Club sponsored Cup.
"Going enormous - he’s led and been dominant in both wins, up in grade obviously but drops from 58kg, spacing them at home at ‘2000’, to 54kg,” Joe assessed.
“Drawn real wide at Queanbeyan is always a task but we’ll go forward with Matty (Cahill) as he’s got a 1400m and 1600m turn of foot and loves home track.
“But there’s strong form drawn in, another Queanbeyan runner Hilltop Hood is on the up, four wins, coming back from Rosehill and that Country Classic.
“Joey’s Joy won a decent form race at Muswellbrook and is back in grade from a city midweeker.”
Tag And Release wins at Queanbeyan on November 11
Joe is buoyed early with Kiss My Swiss in race one, Katie Did It in the third event and Hard Core in race five.
“I think you’ll see the best of Kiss My Swiss this prep, she’s well forward in work and jump outs and when she put three together last time in she looked city grade,'' he said.
“She’s a natural jump and run mare, drawn the rails - I like her.
“Katie Did It is one of Gerry Harvey’s, only lightly raced in a suitable race, so is Parisians. But Waterhouse and Bott have one in (Fiorentino) I see it’s trialled up - big watch.”
Fiorentino sure is. Last prep in April, Fiorentino led in a Listed race at Caulfield and has had three trials coming into a modest country event.
Cleary has Hard Core in race five - “so genuine, gives 100 per cent getting up in the weights and going close, same deal again, and just about his turn,” he said.
Joe has always had an opinion of the former Busuttin and Young trained Concrete, who contests the ATM2GO sponsored $27,000 Thunderbolt (1000m).
After Concrete cracked four impressive wins in succession, including a Royal Randwick Highway, Joe had good reason to think Concrete had laid the foundations for The Kosciuszko and he had an offer from Hong Kong. Neither eventuated.
“We’ve freshened him for this in preference for a city race, his first-up form is super, won at 900m and he’s where we want him in jump outs and work.”
Concrete offers the compelling form of a nine lengths win at 900m as he compiled four wins and as many placings after coming to Joe as a multiple maiden failure in Victoria.
Queanbeyan officials are anticipating a typically booming crowd and will race on a good four track rating in fine weather.