So Country bound for Country Championships after Gilgandra Town Plate win

Mikayla Weir and the Melanie O’Gorman-trained So Country (middle) drives to the line to win the Gilgandra Town Plate on Monday. Photo: Racing Photography.

Melanie O’Gorman’s Country Championships hopeful So Country put his best hoof forward at Gilgandra on Monday, with the five-year-old winning the $35,000 Gilgandra Town Plate.

Ridden by Mikayla Weir, the Shamexpress gelding finished in the nick of time to defeat the Brett Robb-trained Moetta (Serg Lisnyy, $3,30) by 0.04 of a length, while in third and only 0.27 of a length away in third was the Damien Lane-trained Safado (Patrick Scorse, $10).

“It was good ride,” O’Gorman said. 

“Mikayla took off from the 400m, which is a long way from home, but she needed to because of the short straight.

“Mikayla knew when to wind him up and they ran a strong race to get a good win.”

So Country boasts a very good record of 10 starts for four wins and four seconds, having won a Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens back in July, while earning connections over $110,000 in prizemoney.

The Tamworth trainer believes So Country’s Gilgandra Town Plate victory will lead nicely into the Country Championships Hunter North West qualifier at Tamworth on February 26. 

“I sort of spotted this race a while ago and thought it would be a nice race for him,” O’Gorman said. 

“I was hoping there would be a few nice open handicap horses in the race and that he would get a nice weight and it worked out well and he got 55kg.

“We were thrilled to see him win because he is such an honest horse, and he knows where the line is and knows his job and now the aim is the Country Championships.”

So Country is yet to be tried past 1200m and while there is a question mark as to whether the up-and-coming galloper can stretch out the extra furlong required, O’Gorman said it was ‘now or never’ as connections plot their path towards Country Championships glory. 

“He doesn’t have to lead, and he doesn’t have to be on pace, and he can settle and chase, and obviously there is a question mark as to whether he can run 1400m, but I am sure at some stage he will be thereabouts,” O’Gorman said. 

“He won’t need another run. He is a good fresh horse, and I will just train him for the seven furlongs and maybe give him a soft trial.”

It was a big day of racing at Gilgandra, which was the second day of their New Year’s carnival, and O’Gorman praised the club for getting through both days without too many dramas. 

“I think I have only raced here maybe once two years ago and I had a winner with Timerox that day and we’ve not raced here since, so it was nice to win again,” O’Gorman said. 

“It’s always such a great day’s racing. The club is terrific, the track is always in good condition, and they do a good job to cater for everyone.”

The $45,000 Gilgandra Cup was taken out by the Michael Mulholland-trained Cheptegei, which was ridden to victory by Serg Lisnyy, and for results click here