By Ray Hickson
Popular Tamworth galloper Suncraze has been given the tick of approval by trainer Melanie O’Gorman to chase another berth in the $1.3m The Kosciuszko in October after a rousing barrier trial win at Scone on Wednesday.
O’Gorman revealed the six-year-old was found to be a grade four roarer, an upper airway obstruction that causes a 'roaring' sound, after he failed in the Country Championships Qualifier on his home track in March and underwent a throat operation.
On the early evidence of the easy trial victory over 900m, in a heat that included the smart Hit The Target and Ramornie Handicap runner-up Star Boy, in the fastest time of the session it seems Suncraze is back.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, it was great,’’ O’Gorman said.
“I’ve had a lot of people asking me how he was going after the throat operation and I felt he was going as well as ever but I didn’t want to say too much until I got the trial out of the way.
“I felt it was best to see how he responded when put under a little pressure and the horse sounded great according to his rider and recovered quickly.’’
The Country Championships series hasn’t been overly kind to Suncraze, despite winning a Qualifier in 2018, but Everest Day has been lucrative for the gelding.
He was narrowly beaten in the $200,000 Anniversary Highway in 2017 then last year collected $260,000 for running second in the inaugural $1.3 million Kosciuszko (1200m).
So there was plenty riding on the throat operation and after Suncraze beat just two horses home at his last appearance in March, O’Gorman was certain there had to be something wrong.
“I felt he was making a terrible noise,’’ she said.
“We had him scoped as a younger horse and everything seemed to be fine and then when he performed so badly in the Country Championships his breathing didn’t sound great on the day.
“I decided to stop all together and sent him to Bridget Roberts at Scone and once we did the scope on the treadmill she discovered he’s a grade four out of five roarer.’’
Suncraze was selected to run in the Kosciuszko, restricted to NSW country and ACT trained horses, last year by a syndicate from Dorrigo led by Garry Penfold having struck a deal with the gelding’s owner Anthony Gow-Gates.
O’Gorman plans to stick with the program that took Suncraze to Randwick last year, he’ll have a second trial before resuming in a Benchmark 88 race over 1100m at Rosehill on September 14.
That’s four days after the 14 slot winners will be drawn from the sale of the $5 Kosciuszko tickets through TAB outlets across New South Wales and the TAB app.
Suncraze wins his trial at Scone on August 14
He’s currently a $15 chance in TAB’s pre-post Kosciuszko market.
“It’d be great to have him in the race a third time around, I’m not getting too ahead of myself but I was really happy with how he went,’’ she said.
“He’ll need to perform well in Sydney, obviously to catch people’s eye and show he is back, but I think we are heading in the right direction.
“Anthony and I would definitely be open to negotiation before he races if people are keen.’’