Two well-respected horsemen, Ron Stubbs and Mathew Cahill, will look to continue their winning connection at Canberra on Friday and Corowa on Saturday.
The pair, who have combined for 16 victories, earning over $400,000 in prizemoney at a 19% strike rate, teamed up for a winning double at Wagga on Friday.
Their first triumph was with Tap ‘N’ Run, which proved too classy in the Open Handicap (1200m) before Magmetric rounded off a good day, winning impressively in the Country Boosted Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m).
While his stables are based in Albury, Stubbs is thrilled to be able to call on the quality Cowra-based hoop.
“Unfortunately, he lives in Cowra, so we can only utilise him on race days, but we use him any opportunity we can,” Stubbs told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“He is a fantastic rider and gentleman to boot. You just have to watch him in races; he is a thinker and places his horses perfectly.”
At Canberra, Tap ‘N’ Run will back up in the TAB Federal (1400m), and it will be a step up in class when taking on some handy gallopers.
Still, Stubbs is confident, especially if the track improves on its current soft six rating.
“We’re aware it is a step up in class and distance, and he has a wide gate (7),” Stubbs said.
“Plus, he’s been penalised two kilos, but the distance is an advantage; his sprint is his strength, and if we are on top of the ground, I think he is in for a good race.”
The six-year-old featured prominently in the past two editions of the Country Championship, finishing second in the 2022 Southern Districts qualifier at Albury and third in the 2023 Southern Wild Card qualifier at Goulburn.
Now a little older and wiser, Stubbs hopes the Reward For Effort gelding can progress to Country Cup quality races and feature in next year’s $3 million Big Dance or $750,000 Little Dance.
“We hope he can get out to that 1600m or 1800m, and if he does, he’ll make an ideal Country Cups horse,” Stubbs said.
“If not, he will make a good midweek metro horse, but it is hard, and once these horses reach Benchmark 70, they are hard to place.
“The Barn Dance is another option; we just need to be mindful of what’s coming up and prepare him for those Grand Finals.”
Also racing at Canberra is the lightly raced but talented sprinter Sparring, which is second-up in the 1000m Open Handicap.
Connections have drawn sticky with gate eight, but Stubbs said the 2023 Albury Flat Knacker victor and two-time Moonee Valley winner is on track for a big run in the nation’s capital.
“He disappointed us at Moonee Valley when first-up, but we’ve sorted him out, and he is good within himself; he’s never looked better, and his work is up to the mark,” Stubbs said.
“As long as we’re racing on top of the ground, he should run a nice race.”
At Corowa, Magmetric is also on the quick backup from Wagga, with the six-year-old chasing his third win from six career starts.
A possible 2024 Country Championships contender, the Magnus gelding runs into a small but strong field.
“He finds a nice race, and the top three are all up-and-coming horses, and I think their trainers will have the Country Champs in the back of their minds,” Stubbs said.
“He’s going well, and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.”
Stubbs, who is coming off his best season (17 wins) in recent years, has started 2023/24 slowly, but following his Wagga double, he thinks the ball has started rolling in the right direction.
“It’s been a quiet season, and that’s because we’ve had no runners, but we’ve got some nice horses back in work and some young ones coming through, so we’re looking forward to that,” Stubbs said.