Skies the limit for Coonamble Cannonball-bound Tucson Valley

The Stephen Jones-trained Tucson Valley will be ridden by Chris Williams in Sunday’s Coonamble Cannonball. Photo: Bradley Photos.

The Coonamble Cannonball never fails to attract a good field of country sprinters, but the 2022 edition of the popular 1100m sprint could very well be one of the best in recent memory. 

A handful of good open class country sprinters will do battle in the $35,000 feature on Sunday, with the likes of A Magic Zariz, Cassy’s Sister, Patrick May, Supreme Attraction and Attila in action. 

Adding further intrigue to the race, Damian Lane has multiple city winner Buckin’ Beauty in action, while Sue Grills will unearth former Adelaide galloper Appalachian.

Still, in a race boasting experienced and talented gallopers, it is hard to look past the up-and-coming Tucson Valley. 

From the Stephen Jones yard in Scone, the four-year-old has been in sensational form, winning her three most recent races, while compiling an impressive career record of 10 starts for 5 wins and one placing. 

After a moderate start to her career, where she went unplaced at her first three starts, the Swice Ace mare, that is out of Sabino Canyon, won her maiden at Armidale in January before winning four of her next six at Inverell, Wellington, Armidale and Scone. 

After a winless first preparation, Jones said it simply took some time for Tucson Valley to come good. 

“I think she has gained confidence every time she has won, and she has just got better and better,” Jones said. 

“Now all she wants to do is win. She is a very fit racehorse, and she keeps finding more.”

The youngster is stepping up from a dominant win in the Benchmark 66 Handicap at Scone and Jones was under no illusions about the task at hand. 

“Without a doubt this is her toughest test; it is a good open company race,” Jones said. 

“We have looked after her and placed her right, but it’s now up to her as to whether she takes that next step.”

Jones, who has prepared many talented gallopers over the years, rates Tucson Valley amongst some of the best fillies and mares he has trained.

“I suppose she would be in the top half a dozen (I’ve had) potentially, and she is a nice horse, and she is a little trier,” Jones said. 

Owned by Gerry Harvey, Jones believes Tucson Valley will be off to the breeding barn sooner rather than later. 

“She will more than likely go to stud soon,” Jones said. 

“I might have time to give her one run in town, but we will see how she goes at Coonamble, and we might try her in a mid-week race.”

Jones indicated that a strong showing in the Coonamble Cannonball may give him the ammunition he needs to make a case for Tucson Valley’s potential tilt at the $1 million The Kosciuszko.

“She probably could go on and race well in a race like that (The Kosciuszko), but they are hard to keep out of the breeding barn,” Jones laughed.

“If she won on Sunday, she might even go down that road and we could give her a freshen up.

“It would be a matter of talking to the owner. I wouldn’t want to go back to square one with her – I would want to keep her ticking over.”

For the moment, Jones and connections will focus on Sunday’s Coonamble Cannonball, which headlines an eight-race Showcase program.

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