Ringside and his merry band of followers will trek to Deepwater on Saturday, with the eight-year-old searching for his tenth career victory in the $17,000 Deepwater Cup (1400m).
Trained by Kelly Smith at Collarenebri, the Stratum gelding is as consistent as the day is long, starting 70 times for nine wins and 19 minor placings, earning over $160,000 in prizemoney.
“He has a team of followers from all over the place,” Smith told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“He’s been a good little ATM machine, and we just keep putting him out there and getting a return, and his followers love it.
“The beauty of it is that a nobody at Collarenabri trains him, and bookmakers keep putting him up at 14/1, 15/1, and 16/1, and all his followers back him each way, and he keeps getting the job done.”
The old stager will unlikely be an outsider in Saturday’s Deepwater Cup following some good runs on the TAB circuit.
The ever-consistent gelding has been up since May, and following a win in the Talmoi Cup in June, he’s rarely put in a bad shift, winning a 1400m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Moree in August, while he finished second to the Brett Robb-trained Simply Xtravagant in the Baradine Cup at Coonabarabran in October.
Add more TAB placings at Moree (x 2), Coonamble, and Dubbo since then, and Ringside is shaping as the horse to beat on Saturday.
“It’s a non-TAB on Saturday, and he’ll start favourite or thereabouts, and the thing is, we know he’ll put in another good run,” Smith said.
“He deserves to win ten; he’s a gem and just so consistent.
“He doesn’t carry any gear, he’s not out of joint, he eats like hell, and he is happy.”
Chelsea Hillier takes the ride, and Smith believes Ringside will lead the Country Cup field from gate three.
“Chelsea has done a bit of riding for us, but she’s never ridden Ringside,” Smith said.
“I rang her manager and said, ‘I have three rides’, and Alison rang Rod (Northam), and he said we could have her.
“They’ll go straight to the lead, or if something goes stupid out in front, he’ll take a sit off them.
“He just runs honest to the 1400m, and at the post, they’ve got to be coming hard because he gives that one last kick, and if he gets a good run, he’ll take some beating.”
Ringside will arrive at Deepwater fresh off an excellent third placing to the in-form Pants On Fire at Dubbo, and Smith said he was happy with the veteran galloper.
“My old fella; I could not have him going any better,” Smith said.
“He’s in the prime of his life and doing everything right, and he’s fit enough and well enough.”
Smith, who’s never been to Deepwater, heads there with three live chances, with Hillier to ride Vertical in the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1200m) and Zoucan Toucan in the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1600m).
“Vertical is a really good horse and a lot better than that race, but he’s been having a few feet problems,” Smith said.
“We’ve changed a few things around, and in that sort of field, if he’s right, he should go close.
“With Zoucan Toucan, he is 17 hands, 600kg, and a spoilt big kid that would lay on you, kick you, bite you, and now he is out of that.
“He will be better over 2000m, but I want him to knock on the door Saturday; he’s fit enough.”
While Smith and Ringside will take centre stage when the 155th Deepwater Cup rolls around on Saturday, it will be a massive few days for the community over the Australia Day long weekend.
The club will host a big Calcutta on Friday night at the Top Pub, which leads into a bumper race day that offers a six-race card complemented by the fashions on the field competition that will see over $5000 worth of prizes on offer.
The Mud Band will then play from 6 pm until late, rounding out what should be a massive weekend of racing, fashions, and Australia Day celebrations.
For more on Deepwater’s big day, click here.