Horse racing: Ferniehirst claims first blood ahead of Country Championships in April

Ferniehirst stamped herself as a genuine chance of appearing in the Country Championship final at Royal Randwick on April 7.

She tuned up for it following a dynamic victory in the Class 4 Preview at Port Macquarie on Friday.

With pre-post favourite, Victorem, withdrawn on race morning, Ferniehirst was taken to the front by popular Coffs Harbour jockey, Ray Spokes, and dashed away for a five-length victory over Harnova with Lucciola Belle an improving third.

The victory of Ferniehirst completed a riding double for Spokes following success aboard Zuccherina in the second race while Aaron Bullock also tasted multiple riding victories aboard Ms Wicked Nicci and Ticket to Fly.

While Ferniehirst looks well placed in the Grafton Country Championship qualifier for trainer, Paul Smith, on March 11, the contest for the local heat is full of interest.

Despite the setback on race morning, Jenny Graham hopes to have Victorem firing for the $150,000 Mid North Coast Racing Association Championship Heat at Port on February 18 with other stable hopes being Awesome Pluck and Portatorio.

Harnova was responsible for a good second in the preview and Neil Godbolt would be content to press ahead with the Harbour Watch gelding, while there was a great deal of interest in the barrier trial following the last race.

Last year’s district representative in the Country Championships, Cogliere, resumed from a spell with a safe win by a length in the trial over sound efforts by Portatorio and Explosive Scene.

Cogliere’s trainer, Marc Quinn, should be delighted with the performance and the Pluck gelding looks to have an undeniable chance in the Championships heat.

Despite threatening weather conditions, a good crowd was in attendance with the track providing a lush grass covering and raced well with the rail out five metres.

It is now onwards to the $150,000 MNCRA Country Championships qualifying heat at Port on Sunday 18th February with the club planning a very special day for the strong course patronage anticipated.

As part of proceedings, Ray Hadley, will be conducting his top rating morning program live at the various tracks around the states and will be broadcasting at Port Macquarie in the lead up to the local Country Championship heat on February 16.

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