Cavanough duo get a second chance in Northern Wild Card

Braith Nock will ride the Brett Cavanough-trained Sting Jet in today’s $150,000 Northern Wild Card at Scone. Image: Bradley Photos.

The Brett Cavanough-trained pair of Sting Jet (Braith Nock, $17) and Rhythm Is A Dancer (Matthew McGuren, $21) get a second chance to qualify for the $1 million Country Championships final at Scone today. 

The pair weren’t far away in the Hunter-North West qualifier at Tamworth earlier this month, finishing third and fourth, respectively, when beaten by the Scott Singleton-trained Russley Crown.

On Friday, it is the pair’s last chance in the $150,000 Northern Wild Card, where they will face the best of the rest from the Hunter-North West, Mid-North Coast, Northern Rivers, and Western Districts heats. 

“They are a chance at Scone; it is a big track,” Cavanough told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“You can make a mistake and win, and you’ve got to be a good horse to lead all the way.

“There’s not a lot between my two, and it will come down to whoever has the best luck in running.”

Rhythm Is A Dancer led early in the Tamworth qualifier before Russley Crown took up the running. 

Despite getting through a bit of work when first up from a 23-week spell, the five-year-old held on gamely to finish fourth when beaten two-and-a-half lengths.

“We were going to follow the winner, and that was the plan, as I believe he (Russley Crown) was the best-prepared horse in the race,” Cavanough said. 

“When he landed in front, it blew our plans, and he had to work a bit while the winner got there with consummate ease. 

“To the kid’s (Mitch Stapleford) credit, he kept going and caught everyone off the bridle; it was a good ride. 

“Our horse ran out of fitness, but it was a good run.”

Rhythm Is A Dancer will likely be on speed at Scone, and Cavanough said he had ‘come on’ from his run at Tamworth.

“Look, you can’t be overly confident, but he has come on and improved,” Cavanough said. 

“It’s hard to lead all the way at Scone, but he’s ready to go again.”

Stablemate Sting Jet has been racing well.

Following his 1200m Class Four Preview win at Scone on February 27, he finished third and was probably unlucky not to run in the top two at Tamworth and qualify for the final. 

Caught up on the rails, he found some clear running and got to second, only for the Lyle Chandler-trained Rapbidash to flash late and pinch the all-important second runner-up position. 

“He got stuck on the inside when you didn’t want to be on the inside, and it’s just how it played out,” Cavanough said. 

“He is a good horse that makes a good, sustained run and builds into it before letting go, and he probably didn’t get that chance at Tamworth.

“You can’t come from behind at Tamworth when there is a really good tempo in those good races; he’ll get his chance at Scone.”

While Cavanough will start two leading chances in the qualifier, he believes the Matthew Dunn-trained Belvedere Boys is the one to beat. 

The current $2.30 favourite has started six times for three wins and backed up two victories at Doomben when getting the job done in a 1400m Class Three Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on February 24. 

Jimmy Orman takes the ride, and many pundits believe the four-year-old Maurice gelding is the horse to beat ahead of the $1 million final.

“He is a tough-looking machine,” Cavanough said. 

“He is stabled with us, and he got here yesterday (Wednesday) morning, and he’s travelled, and on paper, he looks like the one to beat, and visually, he looks the same.

“The gun jockey manager (Drew Smith) said he is the one to beat, and whoever wins this race is the one to beat in the final.” 

The Northern Wild Card qualifier will be run and won at 5.20 pm before attention turns to Goulburn on Sunday for the Southern Wild Card qualifier.

For more on the 2024 Country Championships, click here.