Dodson chasing Coffs boost ahead of July Carnival
RACING :Brett Dodson is eyeing off a South Grafton Cup with his talented galloper Sawtell but the Coffs Harbour trainer is praying today’s meet at Coffs Harbour goes ahead.
Sawtell is yet to win at his home Coffs Harbour track and is also winless on heavy surfaces but will run in today’s $27,000 2020 Toormina Cup Showcase Benchmark 66 Handicap (1315m) as a major lead-up race to the $50,000 South Grafton Cup (1600m) on Sunday, July 5.
The five-year-old gelding hasn’t won over the distance either but a good barrier (2) and the two kilo claim of Kyle Wilson-Taylor will go a long way to helping him return well from a short “freshener.”
“He’s had three weeks in the paddock,” Dodson said.
“Trying to get him right for the carnivals (Grafton and Coffs). This race (Toormina Cup) is important to him. Need a start here and then head into the South Grafton Cup.”
Sawtell is the winner of four of his 30 starts but all his wins have come at 1400m or further.
He’s not the only one of Dodson’s 17 horses in work who is looking further afield.
Dodson also has talented Vacate preparing for a crack at the John Carlton Cup but also needs today’s races to go ahead so he can have a barrier trial.
“He’s first emergency in a trial would you believe it,” he said.
“Makes it hard when you are trying to get horses ready for big races at the carnivals.”
That the Coffs track will be in the heavy range is a given to Dodson.
“It’s just started to rain again,” he said yesterday morning.
“We’ve only had two and a half mill this week. It was a heavy 10 but had improved to an eight but will be back to a nine. Just hope we race.”
The Toormina Cup is a strong race and part of a big eight-race TAB Showcase meeting that had such a good response with more than 180 nominations on Monday.
That transferred into 113 acceptors Wednesday morning.
“They are solid numbers,” Coffs Harbour Racing Club General and Racing Manager Tim Saladine said of what is close to an average of 14 runners per race.
For a track rated in the heavy range that’s enormous.
“It’s very, very wet,” Tim Saladine added.
“And they are tipping rain Thursday. We’ll just see what happens but considering all that, the fields are great.”
The Showcase meeting, he said: “Is a ripper”.
The Toormina Cup, the benchmarked 66 handicap over the 1315m is a standout too.
“They are coming from everywhere for that,” he said as restrictions on jockeys are about to be lifted.
Jockeys had been restricted to zones but from July 1 will be free to ride across the state.
Grafton jockeys Matthew McGuren and Belinda Hodder will look to continue their fine run of form over recent months, with a string of chances between them.
Likewise, local trainers John Shelton and Dwayne Schmidt will hope to back up recent victories with a strong showing in Coffs Harbour.