Port Macquarie gelding Chamisal, given a reprieve from being sold eight weeks ago, could thank connections with its second win in the past fortnight at Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting at Taree on Monday.
The John Sprague-trained four-year-old is now being asked is he good enough to take his place in the $150,000 heat of the Country Championships at Taree on February 23. Laurieton's head owner, 86-year-old Jan Tate, who is in a syndicate of three generations of her "girls", is happy to have Chamisal aiming for its fifth win for them and racing in her "back yard".
Sprague had to consult racing stewards before accepting to make sure that the championships were still a viable proposition if Chamisal won the Winning post Function Centre Handicap over 1400m, the distance of the heat and final at Royal Randwick in April.
He is delighted to have top veteran jockey Robert Thompson, who won on the gelding over 1500m at Port on January 10, again taking the mount because the ride "was tops" in allowing the gelding to settle early before unleashing the winning sprint.
One of Chamisal's rivals is Taree five-year-old gelding Editors which Thompson rode for a photo-finish fourth over the distance at Taree for trainer Ross Stitt two starts ago.
Since then Editors was very unlucky when from an outside barrier came from last to be fifth with an outstanding run in the Inverell Cup.
It was a big run and although taxing, he has trained on well since, according to Stitt, and may then go on to the Walcha Cup ($35,000 race over 1440m on February 7).
Also looking at being in the Walcha Cup is Port trainer Tas Morton with five-year-old gelding Mister Smartee where its sixth in the same race at Editors on December 22 should be overlooked as it was taken on early from a wide barrier at a ridiculous pace with its rival on that occasion weakening to a bad last. The chances don't end with the above as Tuncurry trainer David Callaughan declared "nice race for him" when referring to his nine-year-old gelding Profiler which won the Jungle Juice Cup over 1350m at Cessnock on October 28.
He said his galloper was "a lot fitter" than when it was beaten less than three lengths at its next start over 1150m at Newcastle on December 21. I was interviewing him when Profiler in its exuberance tossed off his daughter, Beth, in beach trackwork on Wednesday.
Best of the visiting brigade could be four-year-old gelding Time Raid, trained at Newcastle by Jason Deamer and to be ridden by Andrew Gibbons who had a winning treble at Taree's meeting last Monday.
It has only had 14 starts for three wins and five placings,won over 1350m on the Beaumont track on December 21 and then wasn't far away when fourth over the same distance at Wyong on January 5.
Punters should be aware that it buck-jumped when $1.60 favourite at Cessnock on October 18 and then trialled to the satisfaction of stewards. Deamer has an interesting runner in four-year-old mare Lochita in the F M Maiden over 1250m which looked good in running second in a barrier trial at Taree last Monday.
It was bought for $280,000 as a yearling and after two starts, one being a third at Warwick Farm for Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse, it was sold on for much less and prior to the Taree trial it was first in one at Newcastle. Top provincial jockey Christian Reith has been engaged.
Doug Ryan selections
Race 1: Chamisal 1, Editors 2, Mister Smartee 3. Race 2: Dreams Out West 1, Za Za Zena 2, Stars Don't Lie 3. Race 3: Jay'N'Jay 1, Solano 2, Self Regard 3. Race 4: Lochita 1, Classic Gown 2, Toguchi 3. Race 5: Foxdown 1, Django Unreined 2, Hard Ruler 3. Race 6: New Tycoon 1, Midi 2, Graceful Star 3. Race 7: New Major 1, Titus 2, Yu Long Sheng Hui 3.