‘Watch out Sydney’ as Lundholm marches into Country Championships final

Jake Pracey-Holmes (yellow and pink silks) guides the Clint Lunholm-trained Listen To The Band to victory in Sunday’s $150,000 Western Racing Association Country Championships qualifier at Coonamble. Photo: Racing Photography.

The band was marching as Clint Lundholm made a glorious return home to Coonamble on Sunday when winning the $150,000 Western Racing Association Country Championships qualifier with Listen to The Band.

It was a hotly-run qualifier, with jockey Jake Pracey-Holmes forced to go back on the eight-year-old, but the $6.50 chance eventually found the lead on the Coonamble home straight, and gamely held off the Brett Robb-trained Sizzle Minizzle (Brooker Stower, $11) by 1.01 length, while flashing late to finish third was another Lundholm galloper in Smooth Esprit ($21), which was beaten 1.23 lengths. 

A born and bred Coonamble boy, you couldn’t wipe the smile off Clint’s face after the race. 

“It’s where I was born, it’s where I grew up, and I love coming home,” Lundholm said. 

“My pop (John Lundholm) was here, and he did what he did over the numerous amount of years, and I just feel very proud to carry the name and to be able to do him proud still racing these horses and having the success we are.”

The race certainly didn’t pan out as the Dubbo trainer and Jake Pracey-Holmes had planned, and Lundholm praised his rising nine-year-old for getting the job done.  

“It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t really confident coming down the straight, and I was looking for the back-markers,” Lundholm laughed. 

“They sort of knew what we wanted to do, and we were going to try and make our case pretty early in the race, and he just didn’t step away and didn’t want to be there.

“I think that shows that you can race this horse from anywhere, and if he can draw a marble in Sydney, watch out.”

It’s been a truly meteoric rise for Listen To The Band, which almost never raced again after needing surgery for bone chips

After three starts in 2020, where he placed twice, the old stager hadn’t been seen at the races for 894 days before winning his maiden at Warren late last year. 

He has since started five times for Lundholm, winning on four occasions, and he is now destined to race in the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 1. 

“Look, I just don’t know how good this horse is; every time I step the benchmark up, he just keeps stepping up to it,” Lundholm said. 

“He is eight-year-old, and he is just killing it; he’s an absolute beast.”

As far as expectations leading into the rich country-only final, Lundholm wasn’t mixing his words. 

“He’s in it up to his eyeballs,” Lundholm said. 

“He took off and was still able to hold them off; they’ll know he is there.”

Lundholm’s team did a great job at Coonamble, and he stressed that racing was getting stronger and stronger in the Western Racing Association. 

“I’m super proud of my team, and they have done such a great effort; he is eight-year-old and here he is winning a Country Championships in one preparation for us,” Lundholm said. 

“It’s an absolutely amazing job by them, and I cannot thank them enough.

“It’s a credit to the team, and obviously Snowy (Brett Robb) put up a big fight for me there today (with Sizzle Minizzle), and I knew it was always going to be on the cards as he had some nice horses there, and look, it just shows that in Dubbo, we are not weak out here.

“We have got the right horses, and we’ve just got to keep punching up and keep going.”

Listen To The Band and Sizzle Minizzle will trek to Sydney on April 1 for the Country Championship final, while attention now turns to the Southern Country Championships wildcard qualifier at Goulburn on Friday and the Northern Country Championships wildcard qualifier at Scone on Sunday. 

For all Coonamble results click here