Kempsey Cup winning Taree mare Lippy And Pearls is striving to emulate stablemate, grey flash Clunes Rocket, and win the $25,000 Coopernook Hotel Hannam Vale Cup at Bushland Drive Racecourse, Taree, on Monday.
Boutique trainer Ross Dawson only has the two horses racing and dares to dream the two will give him a great start for Christmas.
“It might be a feast or a famine,” he joked.
But he does think the cup over 1614m is winnable with his five-year-old mare and 2014 cup winner Clunes Rocket is a good hope, despite being an eight-year-old, in the L J Hooker Wingham Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1412m
Lippy And Pearls won the $30,450 Kempsey Cup over 1450m on November 10 and then was only beaten 2.5 lengths when unlucky behind Baysa over 1500m in a $60,000 Highway Handicap at Canterbury on November 22.
In the Highway, Lippy And Pearls cut a front leg when trying to get clear of the pack about 400m out and finished with it bleeding profusely.
“She couldn’t get out in time to use her strong finish,” Dawson said of the mare’s seventh.
Vets treated the mare on course and when inspected back home, Dawson was surprised to find no swelling and she has worked well since…”I am very happy with her.”
Due to her big weight, he has engaged Newcastle in-form apprentice jockey Louise Day who claims three kilos and expects the mare to be in touch with the pace early.
She meets an even field, some of which she has beaten in the past, and luck in running will play a big part in the race.
“Yippee Hi Ho” will be greetings should Port Macquarie five-year-old gelding Hippy High Ho, trained at Port Macquarie by Neil Godbolt, be the winner.
Since winning over 1500m at Port, the gelding has just got beaten by Kempsey’s Wewonya over 1500m at the same track and then was fifth over 1400m behind Taree’s Wongur at Tuncurry on Monday.
Godbolt said his galloper being three and four deep at Tuncurry didn’t enhance its chances.
Hippy High Ho races well at Taree’s track and should now be suited by the extra distance.
Local trainer Ross Stitt has starters in nearly every race and rates three-year-old gelding Blinkin Artie a big chance on its latest efforts in the cup.
It has won three of its past six starts, one being at this track, and was third to Wewonya at its last start.
“He is only a pony and doesn’t carry big weights,” Stitt said.
“I think he is up to the class and he will be more suited with the lighter weight.”
Scone trainer Rodney Northam was disappointed with his seven-year-old gelding Husswick in the Krambach Cup at Taree four starts back and it seems better placed in this field after a 1.7 lengths sixth over 1600m at Scone last start.
Another cup aspirant is Kempsey six-year-old mare Pomme Petite, trained by Barry Ratcliff, he being keen for jockey Matt Paget to ride her from just behind the pace as against leading and then wilting.
“I would like her held up early to see how she can finish.”
The form of the visiting gallopers is solid in what should be a very competitive race.
Stitt won the cup with Blinkin Quick in 2008, Godbolt was runner-up with Rollem in 2012 and with Long Journey Home in 2013.
Clunes Rocket lines up after two handy fourths and according to Dawson is still very competitive.
“I think it is his race and apprentice Chloe Baker gives him good weight relief,” he said.
Ratcliff is looking at sending four-year-old mare Shake Her Bon Bon to Sydney for a Highway Handicap if she runs well in the Frank & Eve Goldsmith Class 1 Handicap over 1412m.
Doug Ryan’s selections:
Race 1: Testaview 1, King Of Monaco 2, El Casco 3.
Race 2: Big Call 1, The Intern 2, I Am Awesome 3.
Race 3: Editors 1, Apollo Eagle 2, Lilac Wine 3.
Race 4: Clunes Rocket 1, Bolwarra Ben 2, Commandatore 3.
Race 5: Lippy And Pearls 1, Hippy High Ho 2, Blinkin Artie 3.
Race 6: He’sprettycool 1, Our Tax Return 2, Munjai 3.
Race 7: Shake Her Bon Bon 1, Sleepwalker 2, Stars And Stripes 3.