By Doug Ryan
Port Macquarie and Taree’s star gallopers will be out to keep the $25,000 Bakewell Haulage Gloucester Cup in local hands at Krambach Race Club’s free entry TAB meeting at Bushland Drive Racecourse,Taree, on Tuesday.
It was a local win with Clunes Rocket, trained at Taree by Michael Byers, scoring last year from Newcastle’s Tanzen, trained by Paul Perry, and looking at the field for the 1257m cup the battle between country and provincial gallopers is again truly alive.
The battle lines have been drawn with Port’s leading trainer Neil Godbolt accepting with two of his promising gallopers, five-year-old geldings Fabry and Forever Alone for the race. Fabry ended last preparation in a blaze of glory by winning its last two races, one here over the distance, and back to this class after three resuming runs, should be near its best again.
Five of its seven wins in 23 starts have been over this distance, four of them in five starts at the track. The beauty about the extravagant striding gelding is that it has won on all track types, good to heavy.
Godbolt’s improving Forever Alone was an unlucky second at the track before scoring a win at Grafton at its next start. There is plenty of class and interest, no more so than four-year-old mare Shotgun Roulette, trained on the track by Wayne Wilkes.
The horse was second to Port’s Cogliere in the $150,000 Qualifier for the Country Final of The Championships before it finshed midfield, beaten 4.3 lengths, behind Free Standing in the $400,000 final at Royal Randwick on April 1.
The mare was also nominated for the Tamworth Cup Prelude but being close to home she is starting here. Wilkes said the mare, to be ridden by his in-form apprentice Chloe Baker who had a win on Hesco Gold at Newcastle on Saturday, has come through the Randwick race well and is on target for the $100,000 Tamworth Gold Cup over 1400m on April 29.
Then there is country cups king, seven-year-old Taree gelding Single Spirit, trained on the track by Ross Stitt, it having its third run back after being under a fitness cloud.
Despite the distance not being its best, how can the form of the gelding which has had 55 starts for 12 wins and nine placings for prizemoney and bonuses nearing $350,000 be denied? Stitt described his gelding’s last start seventh at Grafton over 1206m on April 4 as a “fair effort".
“He has improved by the run and although the distance is probably short of his best, he has done well and will have a claim for his jockey (4kgs for Kellie Holding). If he runs well, he will be aimed at the Tamworth Cup and maybe then head towards the Grafton Cup races,” Stitt said.
So where is the provincial opposition? Perry has the improving five-year-old gelding Torquay, which won three races in a row here before a spell, ready to strike.
The Gloucester Advocate Benchmark 65 Handicap over 1007m is also full of promising gallopers. Newcastle three-year-old filly Bonita, trained by Jason Deamer, likes the track and is resuming, Perry’s Italian Son has plenty of speed, and Port’s Portatorio, trained by Jenny Graham, will strip fitter after being in the Country Final Qualifier at Taree last start.