In a race that had the large Australia Day crowd on their toes, Ellie’s Encore from the Newcastle stable of Paul Perry was able to prevail in the Queen of the North at Port Macquarie.
Matthew Paget was allowed to dictate terms in front aboard the Choisir filly, Ellie’s Encore, and On My Terms as the field approached the home bend.
The stage was set for a wonderful chapter of racing as the Kim Waugh trained galloper, Never Out, came from the pack to challenge for the lead in the run to the judge.
With syndicate members including the Marsh brothers, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Ryan Harris, Greg Blewett, Andrea Lehman and leading broadcaster Alan Jones cheering on behalf of fallen champion cricketer, Phil Hughes, the horse momentarily raced to the lead.
The Star Witness mare was having her second run from a spell following recent success at Gosford and was feeling the pinch as Mathew Paget lifted Ellie’s Encore back to the front in the shadows of the post for a half neck victory.
Hammoon Dream ran a creditable race for third while last year’s winner, Shotgun Roulette, was doing her best work late to be beaten just over two lengths in fourth position.
With a race day conducted under fine skies on a good surface, punters found the conditions difficult with only one favourite successful following the outstanding victory of Miss Redoble.
The victory by over five lengths was some consolation for trainer, Tracey Bartley, who had Tears in Heaven withdrawn by order of stewards at the barrier prior to the main event.
The next meeting to be conducted at Port features the Mid North Coast Racing Association Championship Preview to be conducted on February 2 with nominations closing on the Monday prior at 11am.
With the $500,000 Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick over 1400 metres on April 7 providing a wonderful pinnacle for country trainers around the state, the stage is set for some outstanding racing action.
The Country Championships consists of a series of seven qualifying races, each held at a club representing one racing region in NSW.
Each race will be worth $150,000 in prize money, and will be contested by eligible horses that must be under the care of a country trainer in that region.
Following the Championships Preview, Port Macquarie Race Club will host the Mid North Coast qualifier on February 18 with neighbouring heats to be conducted at Grafton on March 11 and Scone on March 18.
Leading broadcaster, Ray Hadley, will be travelling to the various host clubs for the Country Championships heats and the club is delighted to have Ray broadcast his top rating morning show in the lead up to the Port Macquarie qualifier.