By Geoff Newling
In A Wink has drawn ideally in Sunday’s $100,000 Corey’s Catering Tamworth Cup (1400m) as she battles her way to not only reverse an unlucky third in last year’s feature race but win a race her father went so close to winning a decade ago.
Now trained at Muswellbrook by Justin McIntosh In A Wink, the daughter of Tamworth-based stallion Ready As, finished a luckless third to Chrysolaus and Pera Pera last year.
She was trained by now retired Scone trainer Greg Bennett at that stage for Tamworth owner/breeders Gwen and Errol Leicht. Bennett won a stakes race with her at Scone along the way but injury has been a constant companion as well.
Transferred to Justin McIntosh she has thrived in recent weeks and returned to the winners list at Taree earlier this month when she flashed home from back in the field to win the Gloucester Cup (1237m) at big odds. It was her fifth win in 25 starts and took her prizemoney to $206,405.
It was Justin McIntosh’s second race win as a trainer. The 23-year-old had won his first at Gunnedah in mid December with her little brother, In A Spring, and he’s had only had his trainer’s licence since August last year.
“I think she’s a good chance in the Tamworth Cup,” Justin said today. “I feel she’s on top of her game and been working very well. I’m very confident.”
He’s also excited about having her fit, healthy and happy and about having a runner in such a big race so early in his career.
“It’s a privilege to have her in my stable,” he said.
In A Wink’s chance at winning a Tamworth Cup sits well with Erin Park studmaster Steve Miller. He has stood Ready As for the past half dozen years at his Hallsville stud on the Tamworth outskirts and always thought he would be the next Youthful Legs and become an outstanding ”cut price” stallion.
“He was a good horse,” Steve Miller said of Ready As, a son of More Than Ready. “Just didn’t get enough mares. “
The days of small studs competing against the major operations in the Hunter Valley are slowly dying Steve said.
“Hopefully we can find a home for him,” he said of a stallion for sale.
“It’s the end of a dream for Smythy too I suppose.”
Smythy is former Tamworth trainer Wayne Smyth who bought Ready As at the Scone Yearling Sale for $16,000 in 2003. Ready As went on to win five races and $227,000 in prizemoney including wins at Scone, Tamworth and Canterbury as a juvenile before finishing second in the Inglis 2YO Challenge at Scone and then second to Darci Brahma in the $500,00 TJ Smith at Eagle Farm. He also won a Port Macquarie Cup Prelude and a South Muswellbrook Cup.
“They were great days and memories,” Steve Miller said. “Especially the night he won at Canterbury when he beat Kris Lees’ horse Johnny. You can’t imagine how it would have changed things if he’d have won those races at Scone and Eagle Farm. He was an unlucky horse. Another half length and it would be a lot different.”
While Steve and Cheryl Miller are having a break from the stud business they aren’t “closing up shop”.
“We’ve been through it before,” he said “where we haven’t had any stallions out here. Mel (trainer Melanie O’Gorman) is out here now working her horses too so it’s still busy. “And we do have two of Ready As’ young horses running in the first race on Sunday too. Sue Grills has one (As Yawood) and we have a share in She’s Sharp As, trained by Troy O’Neile.
“Winning with one of those would be nice too but I’d love to see In A Wink win. That was a good win at Taree the other day. Couldn’t believe the price ($37). She’s going to be right in it.”
The scratching of topweight Binalong Road has now afforded Scone gelding Caerless Choice a run and he will start from barrier three Sunday although he is also entered in the Hawkesbury Guineas tomorrow.