By Mark Brassel
Coonamble trainer Cec Hodgson will travel the 222km return journey to Warren on Tuesday with his charge A Magic Zariz who looks a superb chance of capturing the feature event, the annual Cattleman’s Handicap (1400m).
Hodgson heads south-west to Warren with a four-horse team, the most notable being A Magic Zariz, a gelding that has been a model of consistency with three wins and a second from his past five starts.
“Should have won his last four starts,” Cec declared. “The jockey jumped off after the race last time and said he went for two different runs and they both closed.”
A Magic Zariz scored at Gunnedah (1400m) and Dubbo (1400m) before rattling home for an unlucky fourth to Kanguru in the Coonamble Cannonball (1100m). The four-year-old quickly atoned by finishing fast near the inside rail to claim the XXXX Cup (1400m) at Mudgee.
Aside from being run on his home track, the Coonamble Cannonball was a race Cec (58yo) would dearly have loved to win: “This year it was named after Johnny Lundholm, a legend around these parts. I worked for John when I was 12-years-old so it would have been fantastic to have won the race.”
Apprentice Chris Williams has ridden the horse three times from his past four starts and will again take the reins at Warren.
Awild Enemy’s Pick (Michael Travers) will accompany Hodgson’s team and the gelding also looks a serious chance in the Class 2 Plate (1400m).
Last start at Wellington (1400m) the five-year-old ran into the race strongly approaching the turn but was pushed eight wide, hitting the front 150m out only to tire late for fourth (1.4 lengths) to Jesse ‘n’ James.
“He should have won the other day,” Hodgson rued. “He had a very hard run and has done well since. Although he’s probably better over 1600m, I’m expecting him to go close.”
Plow Man, a five-year-old who is yet to finish a place in eight starts, could well improve sufficiently after nearly landing a long-priced betting plunge last time out.
The gelding will line up in the Maiden Plate (1400m) with Chris Williams aboard. Last start Plow Man came from 10th on the home turn to finish the closest of fourths to Mount Taishan at Wellington (1400m) after being backed from $151 to $31.
“He had four runs for another trainer so I’ve only had him for four starts,” Hodgson explained. “He had two years off before he came to me and they said he would pull and buck and do all sorts of things, but since we’ve had him he has been a lovely horse to work with. He was doing his best work late last start and should be further improved by the run.”
The final horse of Hodgson’s quartet is Prettylittlefellow (Chloe Baker) who will run in the Benchmark 55 Handicap (1000m): “He was a good horse but has suffered from crook feet. He has been out of form and we’re merely hoping on Tuesday.”