Swan stable keen to back dynamic duo
By TONY WHITE
GRAFTON'S Bruce Swan is primed to fire his first salvo at what is hopefully a bountiful Grafton July Racing Carnival which opens tomorrow with the Westlawn Finance Cup Prelude Day.
Equine giant Concitare and consistent gelding Fly Dubai, who is facing retirement, open the local stable's feature race assault in the $12,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m) and $12,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m).
Yesterday, Swan's smile broadened when his two charges drew perfectly, Concitare with barrier six in the 16-horse Cup Prelude and Fly Dubai the same in the 11-horse John Carlton.
Both horses, owned by the same connections headed by Dalby-based hoteliers Jamie and Kirsty Vincent, will be ridden by Ballina-based, leading Queensland rider, Scott Seamer.
This time last year Swan made front page headlines when he inexplicably forgot to nominate Concitare for the Grafton Cup. It's history now Concitare missed the race, shattering a long-time dream of Swan and the owners but went on to win the $70,000 Coffs Harbour Cup in August.
Swan hasn't made the same error this time around, nominating Concitare for the $160,000 XXXX Gold Grafton Cup (July 13) on Monday.
"The horse is brilliant, really good," Swan said of the 17-plus hands, 600kg giant.
"The difference between this year and last is last year the horse basically only had two runs before the carnival, this year he's had 10. He was only 70 per cent right last year. He's 95 per cent right now and will be 100 per cent right for the Grafton Cup.
"I expect him to run very well on Thursday and hopefully, all going well he can be there somewhere in the cup. He can stay and he loves his home track."
Concitare is now a fully matured six-year-old and has begun to strike top form at the right time.
Swan said since adding blinkers to the gelding, Concitare's work had much improved.
Concitare has had four tries at the 2200m for two wins and a third and has five wins and five placings from 16 starts on his home circuit.
Seamer rode successfully for Swan's late father, the legendary Keith Swan, and Bruce and the Golden Slipper-Melbourne Cup winning jockey have continued the good association.
Fly Dubai indicated last start the six-year-old Danewin gelding was ready for a bold showing in the John Carlton, winning over 1100m at Grafton on June 24 carrying 58kg. The gelding drops to 54 tomorrow.
"The horse has never gone better since we've had him," Swan enthused.
"We've been trying for several years to get him into the Ramornie but bad luck has prevented it. He broke down last year but this time he's really good.
"He's got to win the John Carlton to get into the Ramornie but if he doesn't I'll run him in the Maclean Cup, then he may be retired. He's been a great horse."
Fly Dubai has recorded six wins and 11 placings from 30 starts.