By Doug Ryan
Taree trainer Michael Byers has snapped up Hall Of Fame jockey Robert Thompson to try and turn around the disappointing form of mare Sheza Gypsy for the Harrington Hotel Harrington Cup (1300m) at Taree on Thursday.
There were plenty of excuses for her lacklustre last start run at Bushland Drive Racecourse in the Summer Cup over 1250m on 18 December despite the six-year-old looking a picture and being on her toes.
Chief Stipendiary steward Drew Smith reported that she was “fractious in the barrier and on jumping slipped, losing two lengths.”
Once she couldn’t get into a comfortable position in the lead or near it she virtually dug her toes in and was under the pump on the turn.
Byers did a blood count and found she was suffering from a virus.
“She may have also jarred herself when she slipped because she never put in,” he said.
“I have worked her in winkers since and she has really put in.
“I want to try and pull something out of the bag.”
Scone gelding After All That won the race but another fancied runner which put in a bad performance was Laredo Hussler.
The Neil Godbolt-trained gelding is backing up at Taree.
“It is one of the mysteries of racing as he was last all the way,” Godbolt said.
“I couldn’t find an excuse so I hope he goes much better as the 1300m is probably his pet distance.”
Visiting gallopers from provincial centres normally prove too strong for the locals and one which is being groomed for The Provincial Championships is Single And Free, trained at Gosford by Angela Davies.
The mare was bought for $70,000 at the Magic Millions Sales and in six starts has recorded three wins, two of them at Taree with one at the distance.
She was nominated for Wyong on Wednesday but Davies preferred to go to Taree where the mare won her maiden with Samantha Clenton on board on 2 February last year.
It then backed up at the track on 18 December in a Class 3 Handicap with a 1.5 lengths win over promising Hesco Gold from Taree and Fancy Nickers from Scone.
Single and Free’s jockey in her latest win was Newcastle hoop Andrew Gibbons and he again takes the mount.
Gibbons labelled her a Championships horse with plenty of ability.
“The 1400m of The Championships is for a tough horse and I would love to see her there,” he said.
Davies said the lightly framed mare is “very athletic and has matured to be nice and strong.”
There is also strong form with four-year-old gelding Bakslap with four wins from its past eight starts for Wyong trainer Allan Denham.
Taree trainer Greg Drury looked at a race at Quirindi during the week for his six-year-old mare Can’t Skate but decided to tackle the Discovery Parks Harrington F & M Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1000m instead.
“She was finishing well (third over 1000m here last start) but I would have liked the race to be over 1100m,” he said.
“She has lost her early dash (although all her three wins are at the distance) now that she is older but is going well at home.”
He said his main worry was Newcastle mare Miss Tripod which has beaten Can’t Skate on the three occasions they have met.
DOUG RYAN’S SELECTIONS
RACE 1: Zigamore 1,Orlando Jack 2,Dead Calm 3. RACE 2: Can’t Skate 1,Miss Tripod 2,Overgrown 3. RACE 3: Lady Selkie 1,Pindara 2,Du Bois 3. RACE 4: Kendalman 1,Biscuit Time 2,Dead Reckoning 3. RACE 5: Guthrum 1,Oti Thelis 2,Lady Evelyn 3. RACE 6: Single And Free 1,Sheza Gypsy 2,Bakslap 3. RACE 7: r Pretty Boy 1,Loading 2,Dubai Sights 3.