Wagga trainer Tim Donnelly has set his sights on the $40,000 Narrandera Cup.
Donnelly will enter the Gundagai-owned Dolphina ($18) in the 1600m feature, but he admitted it wasn’t his first or second option for the four-year-old.
“Not really,” Donnelly replied when asked if he had set Dolphina for this race.
“I was going to run her at Hawkesbury last Sunday in an 1800m race, but they got washed out.
“There was nothing suitable in the city, and it left this race for her, which isn’t a bad thing.
“It’s $40,000, over a mile, and it’s a bit of a step back in class coming from Sydney.”
The Sandy Tait and Jill Nivison-owned Casino Prince mare has a good record of 17 starts for four wins and three placings, and she was tested in town last start, beaten 7.35 lengths in a Benchmark 72 Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on June 18.
“Her last run was quite good, and the jockey (Rachel King) was pretty positive about it, and that day, you had to be on the fence and preferably in the lead and she was off the fence and back, so considering all of that, it wasn’t too bad of a run.
“Obviously we would have liked to finish closer, but the horse (Naval Seal) that won the race was a $1.9 million yearling.”
Dolphina won back-to-back races earlier this year, getting the job done in the 1600m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Albury on March 24, before winning the 1800m Benchmark 66 at Wagga on April 10.
Then in the 1800m Murrumbidgee Cup at Wagga on April 24, the young mare ran well to finish third, when beaten only 2.53 lengths.
Donnelly conceded that stepping back to 1600m wasn’t ideal, but he believes with the potential early pace in the race, she will get every chance.
“Because it is a tighter track, there is always a lot of speed and leaders don’t get it easy. You are more likely to get a softer lead at Wagga,” Donnelly laughed.
“She is genuine, and she ran well in the Riverina Cup, which you would think would be a stronger race than this, so I’m hopeful she will go well for us.”
Before drawing gate 10, Donnelly said the barrier draw would determine just how far back apprentice jockey Hannah Williams would have to sit in Narrandera’s feature race.
“She will get back, and there is always pace on in this race,” Donnelly said.
“If she draws inside, she might settle closer and doesn’t need to be last, but we will see what she draws and go from there.”
As far as final preparations, Donnelly said he wouldn’t be changing anything.
“She will do the same work she normally does,” Donnelly said.
“She will have her gallops and we will tick her over, and she is a pretty good doer for a little horse, so she needs the work and I have trained her the same as if she was running 1800m to 2000m.”
Narrandera set to host bumper showcase meeting
With $250,000 in prizemoney on offer on the Showcase program, it shapes to be a big day of Southern Districts racing at Narrandera Race Club on Sunday and Wagga trainer Tim Donnelly said he always liked making the trip.
“It is always a good day, good crowd and the track is usually really good, plus they have that beautiful big dining room,” Donnelly said.
“It’s just a good day at the races.”
The program itself has come up superb for the club and punters, with 119 acceptors on the eight-race card.
The cup will be headlined by the Nick Olive-trained, and The Big Dance-bound Ready To Humble, which is the top-weight and well-supported $3.10 favourite in the $40,000 Leeton Toyota Narrandera Cup.
The 1000m Benchmark 66 sprint has also attracted a good field of sprinters, with the Andrew Dale-trained Mojo Music the $4 favourite in an open field.
On the day, there is the QPL Rural Fashions on the field, with the overall grand prize winner taking home a three-night escape to Phillip Island.
Gates open at 11am, and there is a bar, canteen, local bookmakers, TAB, and plenty of on-course entertainment.
For full fields, click here.
Race 1: Best bet – 11 Trump One. Best value – 2 Aunty Doll.
Race 2: Best bet – 1 Pyrat, Best value – 2, Mahjing
Race 3: Best bet – 1 Kitzbuhel, Best value – 5 Hilltop Hood
Race 4: Best bet – 2 Magnetic, Best value – 10 Sestina
Race 5: Best bet – 1 Extravagant Lad, Best value – 5 Whiskey Jack
Race 6: Best bet – 3 Radiohead, Best value – 5 Kaipaki
Race 7: Best bet – 3, Reward Seeker, Best value – 8 Dolphina
Race 8: Best bet – 1 Pay The Deeler, Best value – 2 Momma Smash