By Greg Prichard
Bobbing's trainer Bernie Kelly says a soft trial victory by last year's Provincial Championships winner has the lightly-raced six-year-old as good as he can make him for his crack at the Country Championships.
Kelly said that when Koby Jennings got off the gelding after the win in an Open Trial over 900m at Scone on Monday the jockey told him the horse was in a similar position to what he was going first-up from a spell into The Kosciuszko last October.
In that race, the lightly-raced six-year-old gelding produced a brilliant finish from near the tail of a 14-horse field turning for home at Randwick to finish a close third behind Handle The Truth and Victorem over 1200m.
The distance wasn't really suitable for Bobbing, whose five wins have been over distances from 1350m to 1600m.
He gets out to 1280m in the $50,000 Country Championships Wild Card at Muswellbrook on Sunday and Kelly is optimistic that will be enough to help Bobbing qualify for the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final over 1400m at Randwick on April 4.
The first two horses home will be the last two horses into the 16-strong field for the decider.
"Bobbing's going well. We're in good order," Kelly said.
"Going first-up there's always the question of whether you've put enough work into him, but he's had three trials so I'm sure that will get him up to speed.
"He's a backmarker, so you've got to rely on luck a little bit, but if he gets that I'm sure he'll be right in the mix at the finish.
"The plan in the trial at Scone was to give him a good hit-out so we could see exactly how he was progressing.
"Koby came up to ride him. Obviously he can't ride him on Sunday because he's suspended at the moment, but he knows the horse very well and said his trial was as good as his last trial leading into the Kosciuszko."
On that occasion, Bobbing was third in a 1000m Open Trial at Gosford behind two-time The Everest winner Redzel and In Her Time.
Bobbing was originally scheduled to run in the H&NWRA Country Championships Qualifier over 1400m at Tamworth on March 8, but Kelly thought again after the horse drew barrier one.
"The worst scenario for him is barrier one," Kelly said.
"I was worried he was going to get buried back on the rail there. He's one of those horses that needs a bit of open space to get his momentum going."
Bobbing has drawn barrier seven on Sunday.
Bobbing wins a trial at Scone on March 16
After winning the Provincial Championships Final at Randwick last autumn, Bobbing is trying to become the first horse to win a Provincial and a Country Championships. Kelly relocated to a property at Gundy, near Scone, last year.
Rory Hutchings, who rode Bobbing to win the Spring Series Provincial Final at Kembla Grange in December, 2018, will ride him for only the second time on Sunday.
"There were a couple of bigger-name jockeys chasing the ride on him with Koby rubbed out, but we were happy to go with Rory because he knows the horse and how to ride him,'' he said.
"Bobbing will be out the back. He's one of those horses that's got to be ridden cold to run his best race."
The Cody Morgan-trained Mahalangur is $3 favourite with TAB with Bobbing at $4.80.