By Ray Hickson
The final two spots in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 are up for grabs at Muswellbrook on Sunday.
Here's nothing but quotes from the trainer of every runner in the $50,000 Country Championships Wild Card (1280m).
1. Bobbing (trainer Bernie Kelly): “He’s in good order, it’s a tough race though. Plenty of those horses have match fitness on their side so we wouldn’t want anything going majorly wrong in the race. I think the tempo will be there, I’m confident of that, we just need a bit of luck to get over the top of them.”
2. Bel Diablo (trainer David Smith): “He really lightened off after that race at Mudgee. I think I was too worried focusing on his fitness for the 1400m first-up and I think I overdid it. The three weeks between runs is a huge benefit and this last week he has really picked himself up. He looks a lot better in the coat, a lot brighter in the eye and put on a bit of beef since the Mudgee heat. We’re going right back to basics with him, I know he’s drawn the car park but he will cart across. We have all intentions to lead, if he can pinch an easy sectional we hope he can kick and if he does he’s well over the odds.’’
3. Pat’s Nipper (trainer Cody Morgan): “I probably erred by trying to ride him closer (at Tamworth). I think he’s best when you leave him alone early, he was a couple of pairs too close. He’s come through it faultlessly and he deserves his chance because if they overdo it up front he could sneak in and run second and make the final. He’ll be back in the last two or three but he has a really good turn of foot on his day.’’
4. Asudem (SCRATCHED).
5. Mahalangur (trainer Cody Morgan): “The barrier gives him his chance to be in the finish. He should race just off the speed. He needed that extra two weeks, he just wasn’t eating as well as I’d hoped. He was genuinely running at Tamworth but he just wasn’t right in that 48 hours leading up to it. He seems really good now, it could be a blessing in disguise.’’
6. Over And Above (trainer Cody Morgan): “I think he will run very well. I’ve got him running a tremendous race. He just didn’t come up last preparation, he’s a totally different horse this time in. He looks tremendous, he’s going tremendous and I expect him to be thereabouts.’’
7. Two Big Fari (trainer Todd Howlett): “It’s a little tricky coming back to the 1280m but I really don’t think it will bother him. I don’t think there’s any point changing his pattern. Every time we put him out to race he is stepping up, he’s an unassuming sort of horse and so quiet and relaxed. It’d be lovely if he can get across and have someone take him into the race, at Warwick Farm he just got to the front a bit soon and he got a bit lost.’’
8. Whosyourhousemate (trainer Cody Morgan): “I’ve only had him for two runs and he’s won them both. He will roll forward from out there and put himself right on the speed. He’s a very quick horse and was tough the other day, he was underdone going into that race so to win was great. He’s come through it well and I expect him to run well. A few of the horses in the race have had four or five runs and he is on the up so what he lacks in class he has a nice set up. The same set up I had with Pelerin, he might not have been the best horse but he beat horses that had plenty of racing and were maybe towards the end of the prep.’’
9. Herzegovina (trainer Stephen Jones): “I thought his run was very big at Tamworth. Greg Ryan got off and told me he should have won the race. He came from an outside gate and was never on the track, I think for sure he can improve his position. He will be hard to beat, Greg stuck by him and he likes him. He’ll be wherever he is comfortable and I think he will be very hard to beat.’’
10. Gumshoe (trainer Marc Quinn): “The only thing I can think off was he didn’t back up from Gosford. He ran into a bit of a scrimmage at the 600m there, he got a backwash of some interference, and nothing panned out for him. We thought we’d be in a better spot and he was buried back on the fence but I just don’t think he backed up. This race sets up really well, there’s a little bit of speed and he’ll begin well and push forward. Between me and Luke Rolls we don’t think we can have him any better. He needs Mahalangur and Bobbing to have no luck whatsoever but if he can begin well and control he can give a good sight.’’
11. Mr Wong (trainer Stephen Jones): “He should nave won the other day and should have won the start before. He needs luck in running and I think it is a bonus he has drawn out and not in. He gets in too much trouble if he’s drawn inside horses and he finishes off nicely if he has a clear run so he should get that. It’s a nice run in at Muswellbrook, he has won there before. He is a quality horse, when the whips are cracking he will be getting home hard."
12. Press Box (trainer Dean Mirfin): “We thought she ran super at Mudgee, she had no luck, she was looking for galloping room all the way up the running and ran into dead ends. She has come through it great and we knew that day provided she pulled up well we would head towards the Wild Card with her because we think she is a genuine chance in the Country Championships. She is only small so the one thing we don’t want to see is her getting cluttered up again.”
13. Fritz’s Factor (trainer Rod Northam): “It was a really good run, she was wide and pushed wide and kept trying. We’ve drawn wide again but back in distance we will probably try to slot in midfield somewhere. I put some winkers on because she didn’t travel that great in the run, she floated a bit in the straight, so we’re trying to get her to attack the line better. The 1280m probably suits her a little bit better so I expect her to race well. I know she is rock hard fit and ready to go and she will put herself in the finish.’’
14. Luna Mia (trainer Paul Messara): “She didn’t let down at all at Tamworth, I don’t know why because I was expecting a much better run. It was a disappointing result and a disappointing run, a head scratcher so I put it down to the track. Her disappointing runs have been on rain affected tracks and when it has been a bit chopped up. She came through it fine, I would have liked to have a more positive run.”
15. The Drake (trainer Jenny Graham): “I feel he didn’t have a lot of luck in running or a lot of room (at Taree). I think it is a better gate for him in the Wild Card, he’s a horse that likes a bit of room and he didn’t get that at Taree. If he can get a nice run in transit I think he will run a very nice race.’’