By Ray Hickson
Country Championships winners Noble Boy and Victorem are at slightly different stages of their preparations for the $1.3m The Kosciuszko in October but both will tackle the feature first-up.
Trainers Todd Blowes and Jenny Graham on Monday confirmed a first-up assault is their plan with the two popular horses in the market.
Victorem, who is still out spelling, holds top spot in TAB’s Kosciuszko market at $4 with Noble Boy at $4.60 thanks to a decision over the 2019 Country Championships winner in the Hinkler Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 8.
Noble Boy will be back at Queanbeyan in just over a week. The early part of his return to work has been spent on the water walker and he has another seven days of that left.
Blowes said the gelding has stacked on the weight in his spell, tipping the scales at 600kg before he started on the water walker so has about 20kg or so to lose to be in racing condition.
“He looks really well, he’s put on a good amount of weight spelling up there in Queensland and I’m looking forward to getting him back,’’ he said.
“We’ll be looking at more than likely trialling at Moruya in seven or eight weeks. He’ll have one more trial before hopefully gaining a start in the Kosciuszko.
“The second trial will be a fair dinkum one, I might bring him to Sydney and give him one there. He’ll be first-up but he will have plenty of work into him.
“We won’t have all the build-up of trying to qualify (like the Country Championships), it’ll make it a bit easier to prepare the horse to concentrate on one run. We can steam ahead and have him as wound up as we possibly can.’’
The four-year-old easily won his first Queensland start after The Championships and Blowes said the firm track was a large contributor to his defeat in the Hinkler, much like it was in the Goulburn Qualifier in early March.
“I just can’t start him on anything firmer than a good 4,’’ he said.
“I understand they didn’t irrigate because there was forecast rain but I don’t think we’ll have that problem again.’’
Graham said Victorem, who followed his Hinkler win with a fourth in the Group 3 Healy Stakes, will spend another three weeks in the paddock before returning to her Port Macquarie stable.
The 2018 Country Championships winner ran fifth in the inaugural Kosciuszko, also first-up, but didn’t appear comfortable in the heavy ground.
“I was very happy with how he went out, there were no issues and we had to give him a break to have him ready,’’ she said.
“I’d like it to be dry this year. It's a great concept but it was just unfortunate that the track was heavy for that horse.’’
Stablemate Awesome Pluck, who ran third in the Kosciuszko, is already back in work with Graham planning to give the rising five-year-old, if he is selected by a sweep winner, a run or two leading into the race.
He hasn’t raced since going under at $1.40 in the Country Championships Qualifier at Port Macquarie in February and is on the sixth line of TAB Kosciuszko betting at $13.
“He had a little back issue but it seems like we have that under control,’’ Graham said.
The $1.3m The Kosciuszko (1200m) is run on Everest Day at Royal Randwick (October 19) and is for NSW country trained horses with two spaces opened up in the 14 horse field in 2019 for horses trained in Canberra.
The $5 tickets in the Kosciuszko sweep are now available at TAB venues across NSW and online via TAB’s website and App. TAB account holders don’t need to register their tickets but if you don’t have an account head to thekosciuszko.com.au to register them.
The 14 sweep winners will be drawn on Tuesday 10 September.