A Fernie burst would be sweet for Ferniehirst clan
FERNIEHIRST Castle in Scotland was built by the Kerr clan in the 1400s. Tomorrow's Country Championships qualifier starter Ferniehirst is owned by the Kerr family.
Coffs Harbour trainer Paul Smith has the Floral Dynamite mare in the big race at Grafton tomorrow and admits the current fixed odds on offer with the TAB of $18 may be overs.
"She's fit and well, she looks the best she has ever looked and her work has been great during the week," Smith said.
The six year-old is enjoying her most successful preparation yet with two wins from three starts.
Smith opted not run Ferniehirst again after her Port Macquarie victory five weeks ago, instead giving her a jumpout on her home track on February 26.
"We had a choice of Doomben or Coffs Harbour on a Sunday," he said.
"If she had won at Coffs she would have gone up a kilo for The Country Championships. She's better when we space her runs anyway."
Ferniehirst has drawn a wide barrier tomorrow and even though Smith would've preferred to have started from somewhere in the middle, he's not too concerned.
He believes the rain that the region has enjoyed over the past week will be to his mare's advantage.
"She raced on a lot of firmer tracks last prep and never really stretched out," he said.
"It was too hard for her. She prefers a bit of sting out of the ground."
Jockey Ben Looker has been engaged for tomorrow's ride over the seven furlongs and the trainer said Looker will have a few options up his sleeve depending on how the race pans out early.
"There'll be a fair bit of pace on. I'd like to see a tearaway leader but Ferniehirst can lead if she has to," the trainer said.
"She'll need to relax for at least two furlongs because once she is at her cruising speed she doesn't come back. If she can do that she will run very well.
"She's not the biggest horse but she has the biggest heart."
Smith is no stranger to having a starter in the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick.
In its inaugural year Smith trained Kareem's Edge into the final and although starting at the big odds of $61, the Nadeem gelding managed to finish an impressive fourth on a heavy track in the 16 horse field.
"That was a great experience and I'm keen to be involved again now that it's been running for a few years," Smith said.