Trainer Neville Stewart will attempt to clinch a Grafton Cup berth with Push The Sky Away if the in-form mare continues on her winning way at the rescheduled Coffs Harbour meeting on Sunday.
The Grafton-based Stewart purchased Push The Sky Away for only $6000 at a Victorian tried horse sale last August.
The daughter of Reset, placed once in her first eight starts for Victorian trainer Henry Dwyer, has turned out to be a very astute buy, already winning five races in her 13 starts for Stewart. She has already won twice this preparation, including a last-start win over 1800m at the Gold Coast on June 10.
"She raced at Geelong on the Wednesday (finishing 11th in a maiden) and I bought her at the sale on Friday - she's proved to be a very good buy for only $6000," said Stewart.
Push The Sky Away is set to line up in Sunday's Diggers Tavern Open Hcp (2015m) at Coffs Harbour, the meeting which was postponed from Tuesday because of the state of the track.
The Coffs Harbour track on Thursday was still rated a heavy 10 but that is of no concern to Stewart: "She handles heavy tracks and is in good form,” said Stewart.
"At her most recent run on a heavy track (at Grafton on May 19) she finished a good second to War Baby, who romped in at Ipswich last Saturday, and the third-placegetter at Grafton (Skytastic) also came out and won at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, so that form's looking pretty good now."
Stewart is keen to give Push The Sky Away her chance in stronger company over the July carnival at Grafton, starting with the $26,000 Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m) on July 6. The Prelude winner is exempt from the ballot for the $160,000 Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 13.
"Obviously, that's a big step up for her, but it's worth giving it a go - she's in-form, stays well and handles all kinds of tracks. It’s worth giving it a shot – it’s a case of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained'," he said.
Stewart knows what it takes to win a Grafton Cup having won the feature back in 1993 with the grand old stayer Abstraction. Abstraction won an Albury Cup, Wagga Gold Cup and Doomben Cup in 1989 when trained by Lee Freedman before Stewart took him over later in his career to complete the 1993 Grafton Cup-Coffs Harbour Cup double.
"He was a very good horse who also was a movie star - he was in The Adventures Of The Black Stallion alongside Mickey Rooney," said Stewart. "Graeme Birney won the Grafton Cup on him on a very heavy track but couldn't ride him in the Coffs Harbour Cup, so Bossy (Glen Boss) rode him instead."
One of Push The Sky Away's rivals at Coffs Harbour on Sunday is Silento, who could improve sharply if he strikes heavy ground. Formerly with Brisbane trainer Rob Heathcote, Silento is now with Lismore trainer Daniel Bowen.
Silento ran his best race since joining Bowen's stable at Toowoomba last Friday when third over 1625m in a Benchmark 70 and he will relish the heavy going at Coffs Harbour. Silento has won on each of the past three occasions he has struck heavy conditions.