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A Rise From Back O' Bourke Could Shake Up Country Championships

By Julieanne Horsman

By the time Stoneyrise arrives at Dubbo Turf Club on Sunday he will have travelled more than 500 kilometres in 24 hours.

The five-year-old gelding is trained by owner James Hatch at his family’s station north west of Bourke and is making the lengthy trip for a tilt at the Western Region Country Championships Qualifier.

Hatch dared to dream about the $150,000 race after putting Stoneyrise to the test at a Coonamble TAB meeting last October.

“He’d won four picnic races and only missed a place twice in his 12-start career so I wanted to see how he would go against higher class horses,” Hatch said.

Stoneyrise didn’t disappoint. With champion Cowra jockey Mathew Cahill aboard, he pushed his way through the field and took off, snatching victory in a Class 2 Handicap over 1100m.

“That was enough for me,” Hatch said. “Opportunities like this don’t come up every day so it was full steam ahead from then on.”

The form coming out of the Coonamble race on 9 October has been strong.

Verbal, who ran second to Stoneyrise, won two of her next three races and finished just three lengths behind Sunny Fame and some other smart horses in a Class 2 TAB Highway Handicap in Sydney.

Third finisher Emo Girl also won her next start and sixth place getter Danish Lace has since won three races including the Gilgandra Town Plate.

“It’s a shame there hasn’t been any races close to home for Stoneyrise,” Hatch said.

“It’s a six-hour round trip to take him to Bourke for a simple track gallop.

“He’s a foolproof horse though so you can just grab him and do anything with him.

“We throw a saddle on him and he does a bit of cattle work to keep him fit and stimulated.”

Hatch has a proud family history in thoroughbred horse racing. His father was an owner/trainer and enjoyed success in the 1960s with a horse named Hypertan who won 12 of his 23 starts around the Central West Slopes and Plains.

Hatch has never had a runner at Dubbo before and is bringing his immediately family down for the occasion.

“I expect Stoneyrise to be competitive on Sunday,” he said.

“Jake Pracey-Holmes, who has won on Stoneyrise before, has been booked for the ride.

“Stepping up to the 1400m is the query but there’s only one way to find out if he can handle it.”

The first two finishers secure a place in the $400,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 1 April.

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