By Mark Brassel
There won't be a dry eye on the racecourse should Ruark claim Sunday's $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Albury.
Ruark is prepared by local trainer Brett Cavanough and without his insistence the horse may still be roaming around a paddock.
"The horse was owned by Trevor Parker (stock agent) who died 12 months ago after being badly burned in an accident on his property," Cavanough explained.
Trevor Parker had been refilling a generator at his Chiltern Valley property when the fuel ignited and he was severely burned. Mr Parker spent seven weeks in hospital before passing away.
"Ruark had been just lying around in a paddock after the accident so I asked his wife (Bernadette) what she wanted to do," Brett Cavanough [pictured left] said. "I said we should have a throw at the stumps and go for the Country Championships and she agreed."
Ruark has only raced on seven occasions but has shown plenty of ability, winning two successive races at Albury (1175m) in October-November 2015. The four-year-old has not been seen since finishing fifth to Vinnie Vega on his home track in March last year.
"He's had a throat operation since his last start and we're pleased with where he's at," Cavanough said. "His trial was OK, nothing sensational, but it was alright.
"However, we worked him this morning and he lit up the track. He's improved a great deal so we're pretty happy with him."
Cavanough will be chasing his third straight win in the *SDRA qualifier, having won in 2015 with Loved Up (Richard Bensley) before scoring with Steakandbernaise (Kayla Nisbet) last year. Richard Bensley will be aboard Ruark on Sunday.
Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland will miss Sunday's qualifier: "We'll probably sit out this year's Country Championships," he rued. "We have a young team and the flood put us back around six months.
"We'll be represented by a few runners at the Albury Cup Carnival but it doesn't look like we'll be in the Championships, next year for sure!"
Sutherland wrote himself into the history books last Saturday week when he prepared all six winners on the Carrathool program with just seven runners.
"I didn't really think about it on the day, even though the racecaller was quite excited during the last race. It was a day or two later before it really sunk in."
*SDRA - Southern Districts Racing Association