By Grahame Timbrell
He lived across the road from the track until three years ago, has won numerous premierships on the Mid North Coast and has probably had more rides on the track than any other jockey. Yet Peter Graham has only won Port Macquarie’s Arrowfield Queen Of The North once.
That was 10 years ago when he won the race on Nervate for Stuart Phegan. Graham hops aboard Bonne Cheval on Friday for Coffs Harbour trainer Sally Taylor in one of the club’s features. The pair combined in July to win the Grafton Cup with Rednav to give both their biggest individual wins so far.
Graham has partnered Bonne Cheval at her last three starts for a second at Port Macquarie and two unplaced runs at Coffs Harbour including a last start seventh in the Pink silks when she started favourite.
“She was a bit disappointing in that last run,” Graham said. “I don’t think I was too far back and the winner came from last. When she ran second here she came from last and it was a great run. I think she is in the race with a good chance but until I talk to Sally on race day I am not sure how she wants me to ride the mare.”
Left: Pete Graham - chasing victory in Friday's Queen of the North at Port Macquarie. Image by - Macleay Argus
Newcastle jockey Alison Threadwell is the most successful rider and has won the Queen Of The North twice, in 2013 and 2014 on the Neil Godbolt-trained Al Nova. Godbolt does not have a runner this year but Threadwell has a great chance of making it a treble on the Bob Milligan-trained Hesco Gold.
A win would also give the Milligan stable three wins in the race, winning the first Queen Of The North in 2005 with Paper Blonde and again 2009 with Lady Game after the meeting was first abandoned then switched to March.
The mare has been a model of consistency in recent starts with a good second in a Highway at Rosehill in November, a second at Taree and a win at Tamworth and sandwiched between those two runs a close fifth at Canterbury.
Foreman Glenn Milligan said the mare’s last start win at Tamworth had surprised both he and his father: “The track was heavy and in eight previous attempts she had never won on that sort of going,” Milligan said. “We put a tongue tie on her for the first time for that race and I don’t know if that made the difference but it is staying on for Friday.”
Matthew Paget has picked up the ride on the Greg Hickman-trained Phoebe’s Lass at the expense of leading apprentice Andrew Adkins. The club had been hoping that Adkins, Port Macquarie born and bred, would be able to return home to ride in the feature but he is required to ride at Canterbury Park on Friday night.
Phoebe’s Lass has been racing consistently in both city, provincial and country grade and ran a great second at her last start when beaten only half a length over 1000 metres at Warwick Farm.
Hickman thinks the mare is in the race with a great chance.
“She was flying home at Warwick Farm and ran through the line really well,” Hickman said. “I think the 1200 metres is perfect.”
SELECTIONS 1-1.05, REAL IMPACT CLASS ONE AND MAIDEN, 2000m: RIDE TO REDEMPTION 1, Super Bonus 2, Havazac 3, Sidewalk Talk 4. 2-1.40, SNITZEL MAIDEN, 1100m: SHELLEY BEACH ROAD 1, Sensational Song 2, Damagic 3, All About Magic 4. 3-2.20, SMART MISSILE 3YO MAIDEN, 1200m: MOSRAI 1, Neon Jungle 2, Sehaab 3, Secrets No More 4. 4-2.55, NOT A SINGLE DOUBT MAIDEN, 1500m: BLUESBRO 1, Maputo Express 2, The Free World 3, Le Chiffre 4. 5-3.35, SCISSOR KICK BENCHMARK 55, 1500m: FOX CREK 1, Bandit Bay 2, Ibelieveinmiracles 3, The Cavalry 4. 6-4.10, DUNDEEL BENCHMARK 55, 1000m: LAURENTIAN 1, Hurl’s Girl 2, Kendalman 3, Mr Pretty Boy 4. 7-4.50, ARROWFIELD QUEEN OF THE NORTH, 1200m: PHOEBE’S LASS 1, Star Reflection 2, Hesco Gold 3, Shotgun Roulette 4. 8-5.30, OLYMPIC GLORY CLASS TWO, 1100m: DANDY TOFF 1, Tawfiq Boy 2, Dubai Sights 3, Whirlwind Ascent 4. Best Bets: Fo Crek, Laurentian