By Ray Hickson
Can Bennelong Dancer defend her crown from the 2019 Albury qualifier and earn a place in her third consecutive $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m)?
Here's nothing but quotes from the trainer of every runner in the $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Albury on Saturday.
1. Real Key (trainer Trevor Sutherland): “Touch wood everything has gone along a treat, he's had a good spell and come back well and to draw a good gate is certainly going to help. We gave him a trial in between, we feel we have him as good as we can and he will get every opportunity. He's a very adaptable horse, he can handle the wet and dry.”
2. Thiseldo (trainer David Blundell): “He's done very well since his last run and I'm really happy with him but not with the draw. I’ll have to do my homework but it might depend on what happens on the day. Generally he likes to be handy, especially down to 57.5kg, and he’s working very strongly. As far as his fitness goes he is spot on. Nick Souquet knows the track, it’ll all be in his hands.”
3. Logan River (trainer Mitchell Beer): “We learnt a valuable lesson with him last time. We rode him quieter the other day but he’s never won without the rails on his inside. He went average first-up, trialled well then I thought the other day was below par. He will need to go forward, be on speed and try to find the fence. If you’d have asked me four weeks ago he was our best chance but Sky Call has overtaken him.”
4. Perfect Illusion (trainer Mitchell Beer): “He’s a horse that went to his first start in Australia and melted. He ran his race before he got there. We put him away and he’s come back and his trial the other day over 900m behind Logan River I thought was good. He certainly will be sharp enough for the 1400m.”
5. Ilovesaki (trainer Norm Loy): “He's up there in the mix I think. He's still a bit immature and that's why we hadn't put the blinkers on him until now. It sharpened him right up. I'll leave it to Brodie but we'd like to be up on the speed if things pan out, he'll be right there. It's hard to be confident, you're up against some pretty handy horses but in saying that you can't do much more than what he's done his last two starts. We have a pretty handy horse I think. He's been dominant and very strong to the line for the 1400m.”
6. Tully Toff (trainer Gary Colvin): "We just hope we get a bit of luck. He's coming along nicely, he's not the worst, we give him a bit of a chance. He's had a bit of a break, a couple of trials and he is ready to go. He likes a bit of freshness in him, I feel has though he's fit enough and ready to go. We had Forever Newyork run a big race last year so we're hoping something similar can happen with him.''
7. News Girl (SCRATCHED).
8. Bennelong Dancer (trainer Donna Scott): “We're super happy with her at this stage, but we'd have liked to have a race start with how that last prep was where she was a bit disappointing. She gets in really well with the weight and if she can bring her A-game, what she brought last year, she will be up there amongst them. I think there will be some pace and if she can get a little cover we will see if she lets down and is back to the horse she was.”
9. Yousay Bolt (trainer Ron Stubbs): “We're happy with her, she's doing everything we want her to do. She won at Canberra two starts back, I was a little disappointed with her run last start but it was a funny track that day. It went from a four to a five to a six back to a five and the rail was out, they were coming down the centre. I'm putting that one aside, outside that everything has been fine. I think we've won the first round with the barrier draw, she'll be midfield or a touch further back but we can put her where we want without spending a penny. If she went there and ran to her best she'd be amongst them.”
10. Damselfly’s Kept (trainer Mitchell Beer): “Her run at Orange then winning the Adaminiby Cup put her as an each-way chance, she ran poorly at Queanbeyan and had a freshen up. She’s a natural on speed horse and drew bad the other day and had to go back. I thought she was okay on a leader bias track. If she runs up to some of her wins she’s good enough to run in the first four.”
11. Gotta Want It (trainer Maddison Collins): “She went in first-up over 1400m off the one trial, she hadn't raced for four months. When she ran third I was over the moon because I thought she was going to knock up earlier but she clung on and that was a good confidence boost. She has heaps of improvement off that last run. Albury can be an on pace track, she likes to sit on the pace and doesn't have a big turn of foot so I'm really happy with the barrier.”
12. Maid In Milan (trainer Mitchell Beer): “I went back through her form because I hadn’t had her for that long and she likes to be very fresh. She was a long way back here the other day over 1175m, it was a massive run. I think she’s a real sneaky. She’ll be back off them and at big odds she’s the one I could see causing an upset.’’
13. Sky Call (trainer Mitchell Beer): “It’s a big difference between News Girl’s city form and our city form but I think if you can be competing close to BM 70 level in town that’s good enough. That’s been proven in the past and I think Sky Call certainly heads my runners. I like the fact we’ve had a run at 1400m and we can be on the pace or off the pace. It’s going to be testing, they’ll go hard, and you can’t be a question mark at the 1400m.’’
14. Azaryah (trainer Trevor Sutherland): “She had a mixed up preparation, she hit her head and missed a run. Then got her tongue over the bit when we did get her to the races and we had to go back and give her a trial. The 1400m is probably the minimum she needs, a shower of rain would be an advantage. But the work she did on Tuesday morning was the best she's ever done by far. I think she can run a cheeky race.”
15. Takissacod (trainer Scott Spackman): “It was trainer error first-up, I was a bit soft on her, I trialled her and probably not as hard as I should. She went in there a bit fresh and she was probably looking for 1200m and not 1400m, that's the way she raced too. The run brought her on, her first-up runs aren't usually the greatest but that was pretty ordinary. Bryan (Murphy) knows her quite well and he got off after the run and said forget it, she would improve out of sight.”
16. Cardinet (SCRATCHED).
17. Jaytee's The Fox (trainer Scott Spackman): “He had 64kg on his back last start, he's since gone for a quick break and he won a barrier trial quite nicely. We elected not to trial him again, he's a funny horse and he gives us the indication that he wants to stay so we've kept some freshness in him. He has to go back and ride for luck, there's no way around it. The horse races well at Albury, he's promised a lot and Jake (Duffy) seems to know the secret to him.”
18. Bezos (trainer Mitchell Beer): “He’s drawn well in barrier seven and is a natural on speed horse, had a tough run and stuck on well last start. Will inject more speed into an already sharp race but is rock hard fit and drops in weight from the last few runs.’’