Danetree Belle hasn’t been seen at the races for 26 weeks and her connections will be hoping the eight-year-old can make a winning return in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap at Tumut Turf Club on Sunday.
The California Dane mare has won first-up before, having started fresh three times for one win, and her decent record at Tumut of three starts for a win and a placing has her Goulburn trainer, Sarah Murray-Leslie, confident of a strong showing.
“She needed a good let-up. That was her best prep last time and she deserved a decent spell,” Murray-Leslie said.
“She galloped this morning (Wednesday) and she went well. She is an eight-year-old mare but she is well-placed at this level and she should run well.”
Under the guidance of jockey Julia Presits, Danetree Belle won at Tumut back in February, boulting in for an easy win in the 1200m Benchmark 45 Handicap, and the apprentice jockey will be in the saddle again on Sunday.
“Julie Presits rides her again and she has won on her before,” Murray-Leslie said.
“She is very professional and she knows how to put them in a good spot and she will give our girl every chance at Tumut.”
With rain about, Tumut could be racing on a soft or heavy track on Sunday, but it won’t matter to Danetree Belle, with the mare capable of winning on firm, good and rain-affected courses.
“I’ll come regardless, heavy or whatever, she will handle the track,” Murray-Leslie said.
“I just hope they don’t get too much rain where the races are cancelled because I love racing at Tumut.”
The Goulburn galloper has made a good career out of competing at non-TAB and picnic meetings, winning six times from 26 starts, with the lightly-raced mare scoring victories at Bong Bong, Yass, Cowra, Gundagai, Tumut and Cootamundra.
“She is eight but she tries hard and she was very shin sore most of her career and she just needed that time to harden up and mature,” Murray-Leslie said.
“This type of race is her grade. A lot of them are a lower benchmark and she is an honest (benchmark) 48. If she wins, and tips her benchmark over, it will get hard for her, but these next two meetings at Tumut are perfect.”
Murray-Leslie praised the Tumut Turf Club and Racing NSW for putting on the extra non-TAB meetings, and she hoped it signalled a return to normality on the country racing circuit.
“I actually phoned Racing NSW to find out what races were coming up for her about three weeks ago and I mentioned to the person I was speaking with, and asked if they would be adding any 1000m Benchmark 50s,” Murray-Leslie said.
“Then I jumped on and saw the Tumut meetings with those races, which helps us trainers out a lot.
“We have lost a lot of community meetings and I’m just really thankful that Racing NSW have put these meetings on.
The five-race Tumut program is expected to be a popular affair, with many local and visiting chances taking on the tough little Tumut course.
Patrons are able to attend, with tickets available for sale online at the Tumut Turf Club website, or at the gate.