By Rod Fuller
With the $60,000 Port Panthers Queen Of The North (1200m) highlighting a wonderful day of racing at Port Macquarie this Friday, Shelley Beach Road looks set provide a group of prominent racing locals with success in the feature.
Local mentor John Sprague has recently returned to the training ranks and gave the Shellscrape mare a barrier trial hit-out four weeks ago with the form surrounding her performance behind King Lear providing a great insight to her final preparation for the event.
Shelley Beach Road was beaten just under a length by King Lear, who went to Eagle Farm last Saturday and came home from a long way back for a luckless second, on a day where leaders were dominating.
Sprague has the added pressure of training for a group of local racing identities, including President Greg Delaforce, Chief Executive Michael Bowman, and Brett Adkins, father of outstanding young rider, Andrew Adkins, with the young hoop on the road to recovery following a recent heart concern.
The 62.5 kilograms impost together with the added weight of these grandstand jockeys will be offset by the claim for promising young apprentice, Reece Jones, who has started to really develop following recent victories at Moree, Glen Innes, Gunnedah and last week at Armidale.
With a win on Port Cup day and solid seconds at her home track and Newcastle in preparation for this event, Shelley Beach Road looks set to provide the testing material in Friday’s classic.
Shelley Beach Road's trial at Port Macquarie on January 1
The interesting runner from the Rodney Northam stable is Valree, who is better known over a longer journey, and hasn’t been sighted since finishing down the track in a Highway class race at Rosehill last June.
With a metropolitan victory prior, together with a good first up record and suited on the anticipated firm going, it might be wise to follow the money trail with the Ad Valorem mare.
Lucciola Belle resumed from a break with an eye-catching win in a Taree trial a fortnight ago and with good placings at Cessnock, Port and Rosehill in the latter stages of last year, the Casino Prince mare presents trainer, Wayne Wilkes, with strong prospects.
Others with a chance include Penfold, Sweet Missile and Valbeata, who finished fifth in last years event, while Wilkes believes Good Excuse is better suited in the Benchmark 66 Handicap.
Safe wagers on the program include Vacate in the Class 2, with the Brett Dodson trained gelding looking to complete the hat-trick following authoritative wins at Grafton and Coffs Harbour, while Flick Pass will command great respect in the sixth event with a last start win at Taree under the gelding’s belt.
It has been a stellar summer carnival in Queensland for Jenny Graham following wins by Victorem, Awesome Pluck and Art Attack’s victory at Eagle Farm on Saturday, with the popular local mentor having a great chance for further success with the Rebel Raider mare, Let’s Rebelle, in race five.
The club is delighted to continue the association with Panthers Port Macquarie and is indebted to Group General Manager, Jamie Williams, for the support provided on such a prestigious day of country racing.
Panthers were the inaugural sponsors of the event in 2005 when Paper Blonde saluted for Scott Thurlow and Bob Milligan and forged an early partnership as the event developed into one of the major races on the north coast calendar.
Panthers Club members and valued patrons are welcome to enjoy the outstanding trackside amenities including the catering, beverage and wagering facilities in the Ivan Livermore Grandstand.
With $214,000 in prizemoney on offer, the first event on an eight-race program is scheduled to commences at 1.25pm and a good racing surface together with fine weather should ensure a strong attendance for one of the premier days on the club’s racing calendar.
There will be excellent catering, wagering and bar facilities available on the day to cater for the anticipated large crowd of holiday makers with plenty of spacious lawns for families.
The usual bus services will be running at suitable times from Gordon Street with a reminder the next meeting to be conducted at Port Macquarie is scheduled for Friday 1st February featuring the Mid North Coast Championship Preview.
Race 1: 3 Nic and Run, 9 Sir Winkle, 7 Mended.
Race 2: 1 James Richard, 3 Gumshoe, 10 Private Client.
Race 3: 6 Game of Circles, 4 Fearless Mila, 7 Joigny.
Race 4: 2 Vacate, 3 Miss Powerbelle, 1 Tikkitala.
Race 5: 3 Let’s Rebelle, 4 Dangerous Dan, 5 Splash of Lime.
Race 6: 7 Flick Pass, 3 Better Not Fly, 8 Good Excuse.
Race 7: 1 Shelley Beach Road, 6 Valree, 11 Lucciola Belle.
Race 8: 2 African Guy, 1 San Marco, 5 Grand Exit.