Tamworth trainer Troy O’Neile hopes history can repeat when jockey Ben Looker reunites with consistent country cups contender Try’N’Run A Muck in Friday's $35,000 Akubra Kempsey Cup (1450m).
It is almost a year to the day since Looker had his one previous race ride on the six-year-old, winning a Moree Benchmark 65 last November. Looker then reunited with Try’N’Run A Muck to win a barrier trial at Armidale back on September 27. Try’N’Run A Muck trialled against two maiden gallopers that day, cruising home by 11 lengths.
Try’N’Run A Muck has been ridden by Jake Pracey-Holmes at his first two runs this campaign, but he is unavailable for Friday's Kempsey meeting.
“Ben rode him just that one time last year for the win at Moree and was back on him again in the recent Armidale trial,” said O’Neile.
“Ben told me after the Armidale trial that if I was planning to run him in the Kempsey Cup he’d be keen to ride him. Jake isn’t available, so I contacted Ben.”
Looker is chasing his second Kempsey Cup victory in three years after landing the race on the John Shelton-trained Cash Spinner in 2016.
O’Neile, a former rodeo competitor who took up training about two and a half years ago, has had plenty of fun with Try’N’Run A Muck, who is raced by Tawworth Jockey Club director Dave Bastable and his wife Gail.
The gelding rarely runs a bad race and has been a consistent performer in several country cups this year. He ran fourth in the Inverell Cup on January 1, second in the Gilgandra Cup on January 7, won the Walcha Cup on February 9, ran fifth in the Guyra Cup at Armidale on April 15 and produced one of his best efforts in defeat when fourth behind After All That in the $80,000 Scone Country Cup (1400m) on May 11.
“He has been very competitive in all of the country cups he’s been in this year and his effort at Scone was particularly good.,” said O’Neile.
“That field was the ‘best of the best’ as far as country gallopers are concerned. The winner (After All That) went on to race well in the Kosciuszko (at Randwick on October 13) and also raced well at Flemington on Tuesday.”
O’Neile said Try’N’Run A Muck was primed for a peak performance in Friday's race after two sound runs this time in. He resumed at Coonamble on October 7, finishing a close third in the Crystal Sprint (1200m). O’Neile then took him to Sydney for his most recent outing on October 24 where he finished sixth to Red Current in a Benchmark 70 over 1400m at Warwick Farm.
“His first-up run at Coonamble was good and then he struggled a bit second-up in town,” said the trainer.
“With those two runs under his belt, he goes into the Kempsey Cup in great order, the 1450m trip is idea, he’s drawn the rails and is suited on a leader’s track like Kempsey. He should race very well and hopefully he can add another country cup to his record.”
A six-year-old son of Pure Theatre, Try’N’Run A Muck has won six of his 36 starts and been in the placings another 13 times.
Try’N’Run A Muck can handle most racing surfaces, although his form on firm, good and heavy tracks reads better than his record on soft ground. The Kempsey track on Wednesday was rated a Soft7.
“He’s won on firm (one win), good (three wins) and heavy tracks (two wins), but his record on soft tracks (three placings from six starts) isn’t as good,” said O’Neile. “But in saying that, some of his soft track runs have been on races that just didn’t suit him. I don’t think the track surface will be any issue.”
This year’s Kempsey Cup has attracted a field of 10, headed by the Kris Lees-trained topweight Zip Ah Dee Doo Dah, a former Singapore galloper having his second run for the Newcastle trainer.
A four-time winner in Singapore, the seven-year-old resumed from a 17-month layoff to finish fourth to Kopite in the Krambach Sprint (1250m) at Taree on October 19.