By Ray Hickson
Fourteen horses selected by fourteen slot winners race for the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Here's nothing but quotes from the trainers on the chances of their runners in the feature exclusively for country trained horses.
Jenny Graham (Port Macquarie): "I'm very happy with him going into the race. I feel his prep right through has gone well, both trials I'm very happy with and he's pulled up well from them. His last lot of work going into the race on Tuesday I'm over the moon with and I think he will run a great race."
John Shelton (Grafton): "I think he is where he was last year. He had a nice trial, he felt good and pulled up enormous and his work since has improved. He is effective fresh and he will run a good race. I hope there is a bit of speed on, it looks a bit of a messy speed map, because of his racing pattern."
3. NOBLE BOY
Todd Blowes (Queanbeyan): "I don't want to be overconfident but I reckon he is going to run a cracking race. He's come through both his trials, particularly the second one, really well. He's bigger and stronger now and I can't wait for the day. Hugh will be able to ride him wherever the horse is comfortable. We know his pattern, he's not going to be in the first few but hopefully similar to the Championships he can be midfield and with a bit of cover."
4. DON'T GIVE A DAMN
Danny Williams (Goulburn): "Barrier one is a better barrier than drawing three or four. He is a bit steady away most times and it takes him 100m to get up and rolling but I'd rather be in one than in the middle of the pack. He still has that bit of room on the fence and Kerrin (McEvoy) knows the horse. He's fitter than he was first-up a month ago and he is certainly going as good as when he beat Trekking in my opinion. If he runs fourth and he's had every chance I'll come home happy."
Bernie Kelly (Scone): "He's a case of out of sight out of mind with him. He's been faultless so far and he's done everything right. There's going to be a lingering doubt that 1200m is probably ta bit short with which I'm not going to argue but everything has been about this particular race. I don't get too carried away with running third behind Redzel and In Her Time (in his trial) but Koby (Jennings) had a bit of excitement about the way the horse went. We need the speed on but he's a definite wild card in the race."
John Shelton (Grafton): "He has a fitness edge, he needs them to run along but he will be hitting the line. He's not a 1000m horse and we rode him out of his comfort zone (at Grafton last start) but he got the job done and he drops 6kg. He looks really well and his work has been good between runs."
Melanie O'Gorman (Tamworth): "I'm very happy with him, he's nice and fresh and I'm really happy with the barrier draw. I probably regret running him last time, I've taken the blinkers off now. If anything they are hindering him, they are certainly not helping him and the way he raced at Randwick it was like he's waiting for something. He couldn't get to the outside but not being able to see the other horses around him isn't helping him. I'm hoping we can turn his form around like we've done in the past."
8. HANDLE THE TRUTH
Keith Dryden (Canberra): "We've had a trouble free preparation, the only worry I've had the last few night was the barrier draw. From seven we can please ourselves where we go from there. He goes well second-up and I wanted to make sure he had a run under his belt. I thought it would be a difficult task to win first-up against these horses. If he could run top five I'd be very happy, if we are lucky enough to win there'll be a small drink for everyone in the stable."
9. STAR BOY
Brett Cavanough (Scone): "You would think his racing pattern is forward, he's a fit horse but we'll decide with the owners what we want to do on the day. We'll watch the first couple of races, see what the pattern is, what the wind is, and take it into consideration. We don't have any excuses, not even the barrier. That's racing, if you're going to whinge about barrier 14 you shouldn't have a trainer's license. That's what happens sometimes, you've just got to train your horses. I thought his last two runs he was a bit close to the speed and he flattened out and floated a bit. He might want to train on like a 1400m horse looking at the run the other day, in front he ground to the line and he was beaten a length and a half in good company."
10. UP TRUMPZ
Joe Cleary (Queanbeyan): "Everything has gone according to plan, obviously we are cricket score odds but we are going to ride him back and for luck and if Up Trumpz comes up trumps we'll have one big party. On his work the other day if he was in a Benchmark 70 at Warwick Farm I'd be declaring him but because he's in the Kosciuszko I know he's going to run out of his skin. We'll roll the dice and see what happens."
11. AWESOME PLUCK
Jenny Graham (Port Macquarie): "He basically went down the same path as Victorem. His last lot of work I'm as happy with as I could be. I'm a little concerned with his draw, I'd like him to get a bit of cover and drawn eight I think is a little awkward but I'm sure Josh (Parr) can handle that situation."
Matthew Dale (Canberra): "I think she looks quite well placed, ideally I'd like to have been drawn in a few but she does have decent tactical speed. She's a long way into her prep but she continues to thrive and she looks as good or better than she has all prep. All things being equal I think she has to be right in the thick of it. In an ideal world I'd like it wet but she has performed well on a firm surface and that's what it was at Newcastle. Blinkers on first time for me but she has won in them previously."
13. PRESS BOX
Dean Mirfin (Bathurst): "The preparation has timed up perfectly for her with a couple of lead up runs and a trial so she is in great shape. She's the kind of filly that can utilise an inside gate if we need to go forward or she can relax and go back. It's probably better to be drawn near the fence than out wide. I haven't got a feeling on how good she is, she's not the sort of horse that puts races away by big margins but she has a good turn of foot. Chasing good horses we'll see if she's good enough."
14. LUNA MIA
Paul Messara (Scone): "She's a nice horse with plenty of upside, we've drawn well and we have a dry track which we wanted. Our biggest chance is we need the right run in the race but we are drawn to get a nice run. There's always pressure in these big races but I'm not exactly sure where we'll end up sitting. She's fit, well and healthy and had three lead up runs which have been satisfactory to me. I give her a knockout hope."