Kosciuszko shaping up as Country redo
IN some ways, tomorrow’s inaugural ATC The Kosciuszko (1200m) is a rerun of the Country Championships Final from the autumn – plus one notable addition only this race is worth more than double in prizemoney and prestige.
Like the $13m TAB Everest (1200m), the Kosciuszko has a field of 12 runners, each one selected by slot holders, but unlike the Everest slot holders, these are everyday punters who clearly saw the form race they wanted to source their representative from.
That race was the Country Championship.
Tomorrow’s 12 Kosciuszko hopefuls include five horses that ran in the Country Championship Final starting with trifecta; Victorem, Don’t Give A Damn and O So Hazy.
To those we can add Snitz, who was fifth to Victorem and Suncraze who was 4.5-len away in ninth place.
The notable addition to the field is
Monstar who brings Everest form to the table having almost beaten Redzel in The Shorts.
Victorem’s trainer Jenny Graham was the unwitting beneficiary of some bad luck for connections of Kosciuszko fancy Care To Think who was announced as a withdrawal on Wednesday morning opening the way for her raw and talented gelding Awesome Pluck to gain a start.
The Graham pair have met on race day only once with honours going the way of Victorem in Championships Qualifier at home at Port Macquarie.
Victorem won by 1.1-len that day and has earnt six times what Awesome Pluck has but is there really that much between the two four-year-olds?
“Victorem is a little bit more adaptable,” Graham began. “Awesome Pluck has got plenty of ability but he is just that bit raw and beaten himself a couple of times.
“Ben Looker has had so much luck and success on Victorem but in saying that, he rode Awesome Pluck in his last trial and he just said “Gee, I’d like to ride them both!”
That trial was after the last race at Port Macquarie Saturday where Awesome Pluck managed to draw out by over 8-len on his nearest rival with the ears pricked for the most part.
Both of Graham’s gelding’s are ‘one for one’ on heavy tracks; Awesome Pluck won by 5.5-len a Heavy 9 at Taree while Victorem’s first career win came with a margin of by 4.3-len on Heavy 10 at Kempsey.
“I’d prefer it dry but they both handle it reasonably well,” Graham said. “Probably Awesome Pluck handles it better but Victorem does get through it.
“I have been working on them for a little while now so I am confident the horses are fit and well.”
Melinda Turner (left, Jenny’s daughter), Jenny Graham (centre) and Shane Conroy (Jenny’s partner) with horses Portatorio (left), Victorem (centre and inset) and Awesome Pluck (right).