Canberra trainers ruled ineligible for the Highway
HERE we go again.
Only weeks after I made a song and dance about provincial centres like Gosford Wyong being the “forgotten rung” on racing’s new-look ladder, now Canberra has copped a black eye — seemingly victim of its own success!
This week Racing NSW released a statement headed: “Canberra Trained Horses Ineligible for Highway Races from 9 Dec., 2017!”
In it, the Board states that after considering “submissions” by several parties, it was now of the view that, “based on quality of training and other facilities available to them, Canberratrained horses are the equal of NSW Provincial-trained horses, which also ineligible for Highway races.”
The decision has left a bitter taste across the racing-mad Canberra region, considering the club is smallest racing jurisdiction
CEO at Throughbred Park Peter Stubbs said he was “very disappointed with the outcome,” but would be monitoring the immediate and long-term future of the popular Highway series.
“The disappointing aspect is that it’s really not about the money, we run country races, and country people anywhere just love having the opportunity to win a race at Randwick or Rosehill,” Mr Stubbs told the Sportsman.
There’s no doubt the lucrative “Highway” path for country-trained horses to a potential Autumn Final at Randwick — a concept first aired in this column more than three years ago — has been a breath of fresh where-ever you turn.
There’s also no doubt there were rumblings galore at midyear racing conferences about Highway race eligibility, and Canberra has paid the price for a poundfor-pound strike-rate that is rarely matched anywhere in the land, despite operating as a Country — not Provincal — racing centre.
Should it be punished be- cause young trainers like Matt Dale and Nick Olive have trailblazed a pathway to city even carnival success?
In effect, NSW has simply applied a Non/State territory rule to Canberra stables. Hop the border 10 minutes to Queanbeyan and you would be sweet.
And maybe small-time 65-year-old trainer Philip Courtney had already sealed Canberra’s fate when his underrated mare Maryore charged home from nowhere to win the 2017 Provincial Final in April.
NSW Racing officially lists Gosford, Newcastle, Wyong, Illawarra and Hawkesbury as “Provincial” racing Centres, consider that in the last three months of Saturday Metro racing; from 12 Highways, Canberra has triumphed only twice through Dale with Mossman Gorge who upset the hotpot Lifesaver last Saturday and his good sprinter Clipper as a pronounced favourite back on June 10.
The other races have been well spread since top Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn won three in June all as well-backed favs, twice with smart sprinter Zamex and once with Conniving.
The five in July belonged to the country with Gundagai’s David Blundell (It’s A Fait Accompli); Cessnock duo Todd Howlett (Nic’s Vendetta) and Aleacia Bennett ( Buddy Honest); Tamworth’s Melanie O’Gorman (Suncraze) and Armidale’s Stirling Osland (Prada Miss) all enjoying Highway success.
The first two races in August belonged to Scone with Brett Cavanough (Another Sin) and My Tagoson (Rod Northam) winning strong renewals.
Dunn, though, has had by far the biggest influence on
series; despite racing more Saturday grade horses in Brisbane and the Gold Coast than he would in NSW.
The only saving grace, Canberra runners are still eligible for the $200K Anniversary Highway on Everest Day at Randwick Oct. 14.
Back the track, and Racing NSW would be chuffed 11 rivals line up against bulletproof wonder mare Winx in the Group 2 Chelmesford (1600m) at Rosehill tomorrow (Sat) after her mind-blowing return in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes a fortnight back, and the early $1.09 at betting. club actually looks value if you’ve got the cash.
Apart from the great one’s mile ‘ exhibition,’ the high octane cat-and-mouse Group 2 Concorde ( 1100m) is small but ultra quality field, with top-class sprinters & recent trial winners Redzel, Spieth and Nieta all resuming.
Tactically, the race favours Redzel ($3.90 early betting.club) who can cruise across and park outside The Monstar, but under the Set Weights scale, Nieta ($3.70) is well placed to protect an unbeaten record, although she may need a little more “toe” into the race; but Spieth ($3.00 firming) on pure class and a superior last 400m sectional can beat them all.
My CONCORDE Tips:
1. SPIETH; 2. Redzel; 3. Nieta
In another very good renewal of the Group 2 Tramway (1400m), I’m keen on Tom Melbourne ($7.50 early) atoning for being a good thing beaten first-up three weeks back, although I have tremendous respect for Happy Clapper ($5.00) fresh off a terrific trial and impressive Group 2 Missile winner Invincible Gem ($4.00).
My TRAMWAY Tips:
1. TOM MELBOURNE; 2. Invincible Gem; 3. Happy Clapper; 4. McCreery
And in a cracking edition of the Group 1 Memsie (1400m) at Caulfield, while I’m very keen on Black Heart Bart ($6.50) 2nd-up after his rock-solid return behind Hartnell in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence, watch out for two staying types rocketing home! Australian Cup winner Humidor ($21) would obviously like it further, but his last 200m fresh was outstanding, and if they go along here, watch him power home late star fouryear-old mare Yankee Rose ($11) is forward enough to sit off the pace and charge home fresh.
Both will be stars in the Spring.
My MEMSIE Tips:
1. BLACK HEART BART; 2. Humidor; 3. Vega Magic Good Luck @NeilEvansmail