Mayfield-Smith plots Country Championships path

Noel Mayfield-Smith will return to Sydney on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Multiple Group 1 winning trainer Noel Mayfield-Smith returns to his old stamping ground tomorrow as he plots a Country Championships path.

Mayfield-Smith’s first runner back in Sydney since he relocated from Hawkesbury to Coffs Harbour last June will be Ausbred Cooee in the TAB Highway Class 3 Handicap (1200m).

Jay Ford, who rode Famous Seamus, one of the trainer’s five Group 1 winners, to victory in the Listed Ladies’ Day Cup (1400m), beating stablemate Unequivocal, at Hawkesbury in November 2016, will partner Ausbred Cooee.

“Under the rules, I couldn’t have a TAB Highway starter until I had been at Coffs for six months,” Mayfield-Smith said this morning as he prepared to float the gelding to his former base at Hawkesbury for tomorrow’s metropolitan assignment.

“The plan is to get him to the Northern Rivers heat of the Country Championships on our home track on February 12,” he said.

“I’m not sure whether Ausbred Cooee will have another run after tomorrow before the heat.

“He is a clean-winded horse, and I’ll gauge his progress before deciding whether he needs another lead-up to February 12.”

Ausbred Cooee gave Mayfield-Smith an immediate start to his new venture by winning his first two starts on Northern Rivers tracks.

Both were impressive performances on soft ground. He bolted home in a Coffs Harbour Maiden Plate (1400m) with 59kg on June 18 before overcoming both a 2kg increase and rise in class to trounce his rivals in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1608m) at Grafton on July 3.

He hasn’t raced since finishing sixth to Sienna’s Choice in a Class 3 Handicap (1640m) at Doomben on September 22 after jumping from the outside barrier.

A four-year-old son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, Ausbred Cooee is the fourth foal of the Singspiel mare Silamani, who was retired to stud after having only three starts for the late Warwick Farm trainer Guy Walter.

As well as Ausbred Cooee, Mayfield-Smith ambitiously would like to qualify another two horses for the $150,000 Coffs Harbour heat next month.

His other candidates are Invictus Felix and Dimitri; both five-year-olds.

Whereas Invictus Felix is the winner of three races to date, Dimitri is still a maiden after 11 starts, although he has been placed twice at Bathurst and Newcastle.

Invictus Felix, a Coffs Harbour winner last August, hasn’t raced since finishing third to Relucent over 1500m at Port Macquarie on October 9.

Dimitri has been off the scene for 13 months, but won an Open 810m trial on heavy ground on his home track on December 30.

At his last start, he finished third to subsequent Group 1 Queensland Oaks winner Duais in a Newcastle Maiden Plate (1300m) on December 1, 2020, conceding her 3.5kg.

“I realise it is going to be a tough task to get all three horses into the Coffs Harbour heat, but I’ll be doing my best,” Mayfield-Smith said.

Along with Famous Seamus (2014 BTC Cup at Doomben), Mayfield-Smith also won Group 1 races with Angst (1993 Flight Stakes at Royal Randwick), Landsighting (2000 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm and 2001 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill Gardens), and In Top Swing (2003 Caulfield Guineas).