By Tony Megahey
Newcastle’s multiple Group winners Kris Lees and Paul Perry invariably provide the numbers and the favourites at northern country meetings, but rising young local trainer Stirling Osland isn’t fazed by the challenge at Monday’s Armidale Jockey Club TAB meeting.
Osland, 27, who spend extended time in Melbourne as a pre-trainer and trackwork rider for the Corsten’s stable, has a made an impact in just his third season and the winners have been regular since he spectacularly trained a treble at the April TAB Armidale Cup meeting. A day when the strongest regional stables were out in force.
“We generally hold our own against the bigger stables, they mostly start favourites up here so we’re happy to take them on,” enthused Stirling, who has four lightly-raced gallopers throughout Monday’s seven-race TAB meeting.
“That’s the way it is these days; the bigger professional stables with the numbers have to get them a start and educated somewhere, but it’s hard to win at any TAB meeting.”
Stirling has 13 in work and just a couple of stablehands: “That’s enough for us to manage, and we’ve got some really nice types coming through.”
Stirling’s best is the consistent First Family to be ridden by Ben Looker from an inside draw in the McDonald’s Armidale Maiden (1300m).
“He’s been placed five of his seven starts so that’ll make him favourite; he races on pace and he’s due to break through in another average maiden. Serenade Sunset was beaten a fair way in a weak race at Barraba, so looks out of her depth.”
In the opening race, another maiden, It’s Relative is resuming from a lengthy spell after a debut fourth in an Armidale maiden.
“We’ve gave him one run as a two-year-old in that Thunderbolt on a heavy track and then turned him out because he was immature and still growing, but he’s a really nice type with ability,” Stirling offered. “He got home really strong and but he’ll be better suited out to 1300 or 1400 metres.”
Osland has Rage Against in the last event, a McDonald’s Armidale BM 55 (1100m): “He won a maiden here really well and then he had tendon trouble and a year off. He’s a nice type and he’ll really improve with a couple of runs this time in.”
Meanwhile, Lees, amidst the high excitement of Clearly Innocent in next Saturday’s $10m The TAB Everest at Royal Randwick, provides favourites in Clevanicc (race 3) and General Sepoy (race 7).
Glamourous Irish apprentice Louise Day, who rides Clevanicc and Face Like Thunder in the fifth, is in high anticipation as the handler for Clearly Innocent on the grand day at headquarters.