WAUCHOPE trained four-year-old gelding Clune's Rocket is the one "given away" which could have given Taree trainer Greg Drury his second win in the Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup (1312m) at Krambach Race Club's TAB meeting at Taree tomorrow (Tuesday).
Drury won the race last year with six-year-old gelding Perlaact and could have been training this year's favoured Clune's Rocket but for not taking the gelding as payment for a favour.
Drury transported a horse for breeder Gordon Field of Harrington and as thanks Field offered Drury the pick of the yard of five yearlings in his paddock.
Clune's Rocket was the pick of the bunch but Drury knocked back the magnanimous offer saying he had too many horses of his own to bother worrying about another.
Drury told me this story over a beer prior to Clune's Rocket winning at Taree on January 28.
Field is the head of a syndicate of owners in Clune's Rocket and so far the gelding has won three races and placed three times from 16 starts for prizemoney of around $47,000.
The gelding showed he was looking for further in powering home for the win over 1250m for new trainer Grant Prosser and Port Macquarie jockey Peter Graham last start with both of them saying the galloper was looking for more distance.
Two of Clune's Rocket's wins have been at the track in six tries and it has won in good to dead going.
"Jump him up another furlong - he kept fighting - a very tough horse," Graham said after the last win.
Cup races are always hard to win but Graham is no stranger to winning them,having recently won the Walcha Cup.
The dangers appear to be Scone five-year-old Lonhro mare Pompidou, which will have the benefit of a 2kgs claim for Kassie Furness, last start Port winner La Hdood, which also has a good record here,and top-weight Blinkin Rules,trained on the track by Ross Stitt.
The Greg Bennett-trained Pompidou has the benefit of a good barrier in two whereas Clune's Rocket and La Hdood will need luck from their wide barriers.
Bennett is enthusiastic about his mare's chance as two starts ago she was wide when third at Scone and last start was held up at a vital stage when fourth at Newcastle.
At her last start,then jockey Robert Thompson told Bennett had the mare "got a split", she would have won.
The two combined last year to win with Pompidou in the Robert Thompson Cup at Newcastle and Bennett said that even though the mare wasn't "robust, she has ability."
La Hdood, trained by Neil Godbolt, scored over 1506m after hitting the lead 150m out and appreciated the give in the track at Port last start.
The six-year-old gelding hasn't been out of a place in eight starts in the heavy and has won two races and been placed five times in 10 starts at this track,winning over the distance.
Stitt said five-year-old gelding Blinkin Rules, a handy fifth in open class last start,although up in weight would appreciate the drop in class.
Tamworth owner Errol French and Stitt combined to win the cup in 2008 with smart Blinkin Quick.
Last start winner Dayarma,trained at Broadmeadow by Steve Hodge, should give Thompson a win in the LJ Hooker Wingham Class 2 Plate over 1412m.
Thompson also has a good mount with Alpresto, trained at Wyong by Les Tilley,in the Riverside Caravan Park (Croki) Handicap over 1614m and also on Stitt's You Gotta Love It, where Ebony Rein will be hardest to toss, in the Frank & Eve Goldsmith Hannam Vale Handicap over 1007m.
Doug Ryan's selections:
Race 1: Hysterical Miss 1, Determined Lass 2, Tom's Recognition 3.
Race 2: Grey Emperor 1, Shalama 2, Jersey Shore 3.
Race 3: Ebony Rein 1, Golden Jess 2, You Gotta Love It 3.
Race 4: Flavian 1, Final Try 2, Morzeny 3.
Race 5: Dayarma 1, Uncle Phil 2, Lester's Home 3.
Race 6: Clune's Rocket 1, Pompidou 2, La Hdood 3.
Race 7: Alpresto 1, Red Almighty 2, Amber Alert 3.