Sharp Shock gains shock start in Country Championships final

The Rodney Northam-trained Sharp Shock. Image: Bradley Photos.

Sharp Shock has sensationally gained a start in Saturday’s $1 million Country Championships final at Royal Randwick. 

Trained by Rodney Northam at Scone, the four-year-old just missed out on a place in the final after finishing second to the Glen Milligan-trained That’s Molly in the Northern Wildcard at Scone on March 22. 

In a dramatic turn of events, Mudgee galloper Lockdown Gamble, trained by David Smith, has been disqualified from the $150,000 Central Districts Racing Association qualifier, which he initially won at Mudgee back on February 25. 

It is devastating news for Smith after a pre-race blood sample found Flunixin in Lockdown Gamble’s system. 

While evidence was unable to conclusively establish how the prohibited substance was found to be present in the sample, the six-year-old was disqualified from the race, taking him out of Saturday’s rich country-restricted final. 

Smith was fined $6000, reduced from $8000, for his guilty plea and other relevant considerations.

As a result, the Mack Griffith-trained Musical Affair was promoted to first place, while the Dean Mirfin pair of Ada’s Rules and Scopics were promoted to second and third, respectively. 

Racing NSW did approach Mirfin regarding Ada’s Rules or Scopics racing in Saturday’s final, but neither was ready to run.

Griffith, who also trained the newly-promoted fourth-placegetter Aimpoint, was asked if his gelding would be suitable to race in their place, but the Mudgee trainer didn’t opt to enter the four-year-old. 

As a result, Racing NSW then considered the Southern and Northern Wildcard runners-up, and with preference going to the galloper with the higher benchmark.

As a result, Sharp Shock (83 rating) edged the Barbara Joseph, Matt and Paul Jones-trained Zouatica (79 rating).

After Wednesday’s draw, Sharp Shock (Reece Jones) has drawn gate 5, and Zouatica is an emergency. 

For more on the 2024 Country Championships, click here.

Country Championships Runners Subject To Further Veterinary Inspection

In line with standard practice, all horses entered for the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final have undergone examination by Racing NSW appointed veterinarians to ensure their suitability to race. 

The following horses require further evaluation before a final decision is made:

Bandi’s Boy – was found to exhibit a mild near fore lameness yesterday, localised to the horse’s foot. Trainer Danny Williams has advised that Bandi’s Boy is being managed by his stable veterinary surgeon and farrier.

Tribeca Star – was found to exhibit a mild near-fore lameness on examination yesterday, localised to the horse’s foot. Trainer Matthew Dunn’s stable veterinarian has provided a veterinary clearance today, advising that the horse’s condition had improved overnight. Tribeca Star will be transported to Sydney this evening in keeping with the stable’s regular practice.

Elson Boy (NZ) – an initial veterinary examination on Monday found the horse exhibit a near fore lameness. On veterinary re-examination today, the horse’s condition was noted to have improved.

Racing NSW Veterinary Officers will continue to monitor the aforementioned horses which will be the subject of a further veterinary assessment on Friday 5 April. A further update will be provided when available.