Joel and Wayne Wilkes have the two favourites running in Taree’s $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) to be held at Scone in Monica’s Star and Chase My Crown, but it might be one of their ex-horses who spoils the party.
Bellastar has been in the Colt Prosser yard for two starts since being transferred and the Wauchope trainer is confident she can run in the first two and qualify for the $500,000 final in April.
“I think she’s a real good chance,’’ Prosser said. “I haven’t been able to get the job done with the horses I’ve had so far so it would be good to tick that box off.
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Trainer Colt Prosser will saddle-up Bellastar in the Country Championships Qualifier at Scone. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
“This is what we strive for now. We get out of bed every day and look at these Country Championships races.
“There’s no real reason why I got the horse from Wayne who is a nice bloke and he told me about her. His horses are always fit and ready to go and they will be hard to beat but she’s my best chance going into this race.”
Bellastar comes into Sunday’s race third-up after a close fifth and second placings over 1200m but a wet track is a concern — as it is for most of the field.
“Her best form is on the Good and Soft,” Prosser said. “Getting her there third-up was always the plan. She’s not a bad fresh horse and her best runs aren’t too deep into the preparation so the plan was to space it right and have her ready for 1400m.
“You just need that bit of luck. We’ve got a sticky draw (14) but, if it’s going to be wet, it might not be the worst place to be. She’ll get back a little bit and be in a midfield spot.”
The question mark on Bellastar, on paper anyway, is her ability to run a strong 1400m.
Andrew Gibbons rides her again after their second placing last time and it’s Prosser’s jockeys who have given him confidence about the mare’s ability to go further than she ever has before to win.
“Belinda (Hodder) got off her first-up and said she was looking for 1400m already after she hit a flat spot on the corner,” Prosser said. “Gibbo rode her last start and he said the same thing. He said she’s begging for that 1400m.
Andrew Gibbons has stuck with Bellastar for the Qualifier. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“When I got her, the first thing I looked at was her win record and she had only won up to 1200m but she has run some good races over 1400m and only just got beat in this race last year. She’s only lightly raced so she hasn’t had many chances to get to 1400m but she’s ready for it.”
While Wilkes’s horses are leading the market, Prosser feels there’s six or seven who could win without surprise.
“The Allan Kehoe horses are up there in the ratings and Bob Milligan’s will grow a leg in the mud and Ross Stitt’s horse was good first-up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prosser thinks My Sonny’s Faith will be much better suited to the Scone track and he’ll have the flashing light on him again in the fourth.
EVANS TRIES HIS LUCK WITH KAT KISS
Can Terry Evans cause a shock and qualify Kat Kiss for the Country Championships Final on Sunday?
The mare runs in Taree’s heat at Scone just weeks after breaking her maiden at her third start following two unplaced efforts. Evans knows the four-year-old is only an outside hope but he didn’t want to die wondering.
“We’re having a throw at the stumps. It would be a big feat,” he said. “It’s not the strongest field this year and you don’t get many chances to get into a ($500,000) Country Championships Final so I thought we’d have a shot at it. Stranger things have happened. There will definitely be a surprise or two on the day with the conditions.”
One thing in her favour would be some sting out of the ground.
Kat Kiss won at Taree three weeks ago on a Heavy 8, but that was only over 1000m, so it will be a big training performance by Evans if he can her to win a Class 5 race over 1400m. And he’ll instruct jockey Amelia Denby to be positive from barrier six.
Trainer Terry Evans is having a “throw at the stumps” with Kat Kiss in the Country Championships Qualifier at Scone.Source:Supplied
“We’ll go forward, stack them up if we can, and see if they can catch us,” Evans said. “We know she’ll handle the wet track. It was fairly heavy last start but she travelled well in it.
“We won’t know how we’ll go unless we run in it and it’s not the strongest race this time.”
Another horse set to start at double-figure odds in the $150,000 qualifier is All Over Magic.
Port Macquarie trainer Marc Quinn was happy the meeting was transferred to Scone.
“The wet ground would not have been in his favour,” he said.
“Luke Rolls was telling me the other day that the Taree track hasn’t been shifting underneath them even though it’s been heavy during the past couple of meetings.
“I have been worried about that track times when its heavy.”
All Over Magic is rated a $10 hope despite running 11th last start at his home track but that was deceiving due to the way things played on the day.
“Looking at the last run, I was disappointing but I wasn’t at the track and I was told that it was hard to make ground so that made me feel a little bit better,” Quinn said. “Hopefully we can turn things around up to 1400m.
“The fact it might feel more like a 1500m race is in his favour too.”
SHAYNE O’CASS’S TOP PICKS
Race 7, No 11: Monica’s Star
Has the right sort of profile to be there at Randwick on April 3 for the Country Championships Finals and Scone should suit her down to the ground.
Race 4, No. 12: Wanna Tweet
Has drawn the outside alley but has tactical speed and again, a wide draw at Scone is better than a wide draw at Taree.
Race 6, No 7: Firefly Poppy
Has been in great form of late and could easily be on a hat-trick if things had gone her way last start. Should like this track.
Race 5: 1, 2, 5, 8
Race 6: 3, 7
Race 7: 11, 13
Race 8: 2, 3, 4, 5, 15
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW
LOUISE DAY will be carrying the hopes of plenty of punters when she rides Monica’s Star in the Country Championships Heat at Scone.
Louise Day has a great chance in the Country Championships Qualifier on Monica’s Star. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
INSIDE MAIL — SCONE
Jazirat was outstanding winning first-up at Muswellbrook and has run well since including two-length fourth (of six) at Gosford last Saturday. Should be ready to peak at 2100m. Dragon Dream has shown a lot of promise at his three starts culminating, for now, with commanding almost five-length win at Ballina. Telfer is bred to excel over this sort of trip.
BET: JAZIRAT win.
Areya Tuchuzy blotted the copybook first-up at Port Macquarie, fading from the front to finish well down the order. Is ‘one for one’ second-up and can only improve on what he produced a month ago. Pandora Blue raced handy and cleared out to win at Muswellbrook when she resumed 13 days ago. Could easily keep progressing from here. Manly Hanover came from a long way back to finish second to the handy Great Marlow at Grafton.
BET: AREYA TUCHUZY each way.
Paul Perry-trained gelding Krayzelburg is still winless after 19 starts but doesn’t run too many really poor races. Two of his five placings have been at this track. Em Em D’Ar has placed at five of his dozen starts including one behind the obviously handy Fleet Air Arm, while Sancta is a first starter by So You Think who put the writing on the wall for a big, bold debut with an easy trial win at Wyong on February 4. Worth plenty of respect.
BET: KRAYZELBURG each way, box trifecta 1, 2, 3, 8.
Wanna Tweet has placed at three of her five runs and was fourth at the other two in what is easily better company than what she lines up against here. Has loads of tactical speed so hopefully the outside barrier won’t dim her prospects. Double Memory was $10 to $18 at his first start at Taree but ran a great deal better than market expectations. Should relish the step up to 1400m and ‘Gibbo’ sticks. Are We Good is the value in the race up to 1400m.
BET: WANNA TWEET win, exacta 12 to beat 8.
Siege Warfare is a handy horse on his day. The Todd Howlett-trained son of Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper winner Sepoy has run well in various Highways in the recent past and shapes well from the inside draw, luck permitting. Tallis is a Highway winner but his chances rest with what happens early on given the wide gate. Has pace, however. Stablemate More Patasi has won seven races. Luff and Engadine are in the mix.
BET: SIEGE WARFARE each way.
Firefly Poppy was a decisive winner at Grafton before her barnstorming second at Port Macquarie on February 7. Hasn’t raced at Scone but it seems like a track that should play to her strengths. Senatorial is third-up off an eye-catching fourth at Taree where he came from a long way back from the outside alley. May race handier from barrier two this time? Jahbath is another one third-up off a top run. Drawn well and has Aaron Bullock to ride.
BET: FIREFLY POPPY win.
Joel and Wayne Wilkes may be able to get two into the final here, namely Monica’s Star and the up-and-coming Chase My Crown. They also have the last-start winner Dunoon so it could be a big day for the father and son. Monica’s Star comes out on top from the Wilkes trio on paper at least given what she did last campaign and, moreover, a fantastic first-up fourth in the Queen of the North at home at Port on January 22. Chase My Crown has run well in four very deep races and is good enough to measure up in this company. All Over Magic is a pretty handy horse when he gets up over 1400m.
BET: MONICA’S STAR win, exacta 11 to beat 13, box trifecta 5, 6, 11, 13.
Sequanna and Jaja Chaboogie are both trained by Kris Lees at Newcastle and seemingly each of the pair is a big beneficiary of having this race meeting switched from Taree to Scone where the duo can really let rip late, particularly Sequanna. The same goes for Little White Lies who was scratched from the TAB Highway on Saturday and now, instead of going to Taree from the wide gate, she is here at her home track where the draw isn’t nearly as detrimental to her chances of a winning hat-trick.
BET: SEQUANNA win.
Originally published asScone tips: Bella shoots for the stars
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