There isn’t much Gundagai trainer David ‘Darky’ Blundell hasn’t achieved in the racing game over the years, and on Sunday, he will look to add another feature race to his growing list of achievements when setting Thistledo for The Panorama at Bathurst.
The 1300m sprint is worth a tidy $80,000 and the Gundagai trainer believes he has the horse to give it a real shake.
“He is working pretty good and with a bit of luck, he should be right in there with a chance,” Blundell said.
“He has raced against horses with a bit of city class before and he will go alright.”
A full field of 14 runners and four emergencies accepted for the race and remarkably, with 60kg on his back – a weight that would normally be considered quite heavy – Thistledo still has eight competitors heavier than him.
A Magic Zariz, the top weight, has been allotted 63kg along with Hit The Target, Man Of Peace and Peyton Place, while the bottom weight, Pure Fuego, sits well above the minimum of 55kg with 57.5kg.
These heavier weights no doubt highlight the depth and class of the highly anticipated country sprint event and Blundell wasn’t expecting many to scratch.
“Geez there is some weight,” Blundell laughed.
“There is a bit of money on offer, so I don’t think many will be scratching.”
Thistledo – now a nine-year-old – is lightly raced, winning five times from 26 starts and he will enter the Bathurst race first-up after a 17-week spell.
“He is nice and fresh. He trialled at Goulburn a couple of weeks ago and he went around nice and comfortable,” Blundell said.
“Time will tell how he goes but I hope he runs a good race.”
The barrier draw was kind to Blundell, with the Zariz gelding drawing gate five and the in-form Mathew Cahill is booked to take the ride.
“It’s a pretty good trip and I’ve been up there a few times in the past,” Blundell said.
“He will travel up good and Matty knows him, and he has won a race on him, and we should be okay.”
Blundell will take two chances with him to Bathurst with Shafty set to jump from gate 12 in the Hugh Bowman Cup Showcase Maiden Plate over 1400m.
Cahill is again booked for the ride and Blundell expected a strong showing.
“He will make a good horse later on,” Blundell said.
“He will be better suited over a mile, but I think he will go well. He ran well at Narrandera and ran a good race at Wagga, and he should improve.”
Local chances aplenty
The Jim Scobie trained Wild Buckeroo might not be running for the same riches as Thistledo when in action at Leeton on Monday, but many local eyes will be watching the Gundagai trainer galloper take on the 1900m Maiden/Class One Handicap.
The Zariz gelding is unplaced in four starts and looks a bit once-paced, so the 1900m journey could be right up the six-year-old’s alley.
Mick Travers, who is the golden boy of Southern Districts racing at the moment – turning anything he touches into gold – takes the ride and from gate five the Zariz gelding could be worth a follow.
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Former Gundagai lad Todd Smart has horses nominated left, right and centre over the next few days and could be racing at Nowra today, Goulburn tomorrow and Queanbeyan on Tuesday.
The Kosciuszko hopeful, Washington Towers, has been drawn as the 63.5kg top weight at Nowra today in the 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap but no jockey has been named for the ride and it is likely he will head to Queanbeyan on Tuesday to contest the 1000m TAB Federal Benchmark 75 Handicap.
Smart has fellow The Kosciuszko hopeful Tobermory and consistent galloper Eurosay entered for the 1300m colts and geldings Benchmark 64 Handicap at Goulburn, while the Canberra trainer has a large team of seven runners nominated to race at Queanbeyan.
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Former Tumut boy and Queanbeyan based trainer Peter Korn could also be in for a big couple of days, with runners nominated for Corowa on Saturday, Leeton on Monday and Queanbeyan ion Tuesday.
Old stager Byblos Boy is set to run second up at Corowa or Leeton, nominated to run in either 1000m Benchmark 58 sprint, and depending on where he goes, and if the surface is a good four or better, it could be worth following.
Korn also has Dalmatinka nominated to race in the 1200m Benchmark 45 Handicap at Corowa and Uno Tops and Uno Zoom are set to run in the 1900m Maiden/Class One at Leeton – All three runners are also nominated for Queanbeyan, so it may pay to follow where Korn decides to go with his stable of chances.