Country Championships Preview win just the Tonic
COFFS Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy has one thing on his mind, the rich Country Championships final at Royal Randwick.
Bellamy is yet to taste success in Country Championships qualifiers in the Northern Rivers, having only had the one runner in Bonne Cheval in the race in 2016, but made his intentions clear at Coffs Harbour on Sunday.
The veteran trainer was a nostril away from clinching a rare stable quinella in the Country Championships Preview Class 4 Handicap (1350m) when lightly raced duo Super Tonic and Northern Knight finished first and third respectively.
A late lunge from Coffs Harbour-trained gelding Eddy Would Go (Trevor Hardy) was the only thing to split the Bellamy runners.
While it might have been his prized mare that got the nod from the judges, Bellamy said he is excited to see both of the chances run in the championships qualifier at Grafton on March 11.
"They both raced pretty well, and they are both intended to go to the qualifier at Grafton," he said. "[Super Tonic] did a great job to get up on the line, but you can't take anything away from the Northern Knight run carrying 60 kilograms.
"I think it was only that last 100 metres that she got the better of him and that was probably the 60kg drag. In terms of improvement, I think Northern Knight has far more in him."
With benchmark ratings around the low-60 mark before the preview, Bellamy said the most telling factor would be what they're rated heading into the qualifier.
"It will be interesting to see what decision the handicappers make," he said.
"I think Northern Knight will get in, but Super Tonic will be right on the cusp."