Track test for locals
Friday, 7th March, 2008
Trainers have been busy utilising the final days before St Pats to put their horses to the test, with a number of competitors taking to the racecourse yesterday morning. Horses were given a chance to show their form and familiarise themselves with the dirt track ahead of the big day of racing on Saturday.
Menindee trainer Norm O'Donnell was up bright and early to put Norm's Boy through its paces, with the horse drawn to run out of barrier two in the $20,000 Toohey's New Outback Sprint. The six year-old gelding has recovered from recent setbacks to go into the race as favourite at $2.25, ahead of Little Uma ($3.50) and Pro Ali ($4.20). "We gave him a bit of a workout and it went pretty good, he's going well," said O'Donnell.
"Last year he had a bad run, he had some trouble and had some eye operations, but he's over that and seems to be back to his old self again. "He won his first start back for me at Coonamble, then I took him to Naracoorte and he buckled over a bit unfortunately, the ground just went out from under him. "He still finished up running fourth in that race though, so it was just a bit unlucky." O'Donnell said it was great to see Norm's Boy back to full fitness, and expects a strong showing on Saturday. "I think he'll go pretty well, hopefully he'll handle the track all right," he said. "If he jumps out at the start he should be hard to beat... He can lead, but he can also come from behind. He's pretty versatile."
Local trainer Robert Murray was also out for a trial run, giving Foreign Title a workout before the gelding competes in the Sureway Employment Handicap. "We had a run, it was just a bit of a sprint to clean his wind up," said Murray. "He did a bit of work last week and this was just to top him up and he did everything I wanted him to do. "He's in a sprint race which really isn't his caper, but it's a good race for him because... he had a bit of a spell because of the equine influenza "So he was in limbo for a bit there, but he'll run a good race, don't worry about that. "Whatever he does he'll improve, he'll run a nice race I reckon, especially around the finish. He'll finish well, he's very strong over distance." Foreign Title is sitting around $4.20 in the betting stakes, just shading fellow local horse Sitting at an even $5. Sitting's trainer Graham McInnes said he expected good things from his horse, who will be fresh after also being restricted from racing due to EI. "She was working along nicely this morning, it was a nice easy workout," said McInnes after giving Sitting a trial run. "She did a lot of the hard work earlier in the week, so this was just to fine tune the nuts and bolts so to speak. "I'm expecting her to give a very good showing, but in saying that a lot of horses have had a big break due to EI... but I guess all you can do is attack.
"She races up on pace which could be an advantage... a lot of horses don't like the dust kicking up in their face. "I'll be happy if she can run in the placegetters, we'll just keep our fingers crossed." In other racing news, highly rated gelding Satara will not be running in the Tooheys New Outback Cup after the horse was not listed in the final acceptances. Satara's absence leaves Barry Dunn's Smart Gem as favourite for the main race at $2.50, followed by last year's winner Nozi ($3.20) and Forest Baby ($3.80). Acceptances for St Pat's were finalised yesterday morning, with 58 starters set to compete across eight fields.