SHORE CAN: Trainer Greg Howell with his charge Sandy Shore at the Grafton track yesterday.
SHORE CAN: Trainer Greg Howell with his charge Sandy Shore at the Grafton track yesterday.

Swimming & eating ? life?s great for this mare


SHE'S got a voracious appetite and her 'treat' is a swim in the mighty Clarence River.

Sandy Shore, the bonny five-year-old mare who contested this year's Grafton Cup, is back on the winning trail chasing victory in tomorrow's $10,000 First National Real Estate Christmas Cup (1600m) in Grafton.

And while the mare's tucker intake is a constant problem for trainer Greg Howells, Sandy Shore's love of water may be needed.

Yesterday the track reading at Grafton was a heavy 8, just shy of unraceable.

Racecourse manager Warren Ford was hopeful the recent afternoon deluges in Grafton would ease to allow the important meeting to go ahead.

Sandy Shore has had four runs this preparation including a last-start win over 1609m at Coffs Harbour and is very close to her peak, given this week has been a nightmare for Howells, an astute horseman and crane operator.

Due to the wet conditions there has been no grass available for trackwork. Hence Howells and many other local trainers have had to head to the river to compensate.

"She's only had one gallop on Wednesday, but she's been swimming three times," Howells said.

"She's just a huge eater, loves her tucker, and that's been half the problem with her, trying to keep the weight off.

"Put food in any form, any capacity in her feed bin and she'll eat the lot.

"She tends to get fired up and busy if you can't get the work into her and we haven't been able to do a lot of that this week.

"But she loves to swim. That's her treat."

Howells was reticent to suggest Sandy Shore's ability to handle a heavy track, but given the meeting goes ahead, she will go around, he said.

"She's going okay, I'm happy enough with her," Howells said. "But she's never been on anything too wet.

"She appears back to form and the form around her stacks up pretty good. At Port Macquarie (October 8) they ran a track record and at Lismore (October 24) they ran a tick outside it on a dead track.

"She won well last time."

Adrian Robinson, who partnered the mare when winning at Coffs Harbour on November 17, has the mount tomorrow.

The daughter of Japan Cup winner Sandpit out of Sionosa, is owned by Sydney clients Kevin Williams and Kevin Gibson. Howells met the pair at Asquith Bowling Club.

Howells has contacted Williams and Gibson who are heading to Grafton for tomorrow's feature event.

Sandy Shore's biggest problem will be the 'state of the track' Howells insisted.

She failed at her only attempt on a slow track.

Apart from Sandy Shore a hometown Christmas Cup win will rest with Dugan Dan, trained by John Shelton, In Under There (Phil McLeod) and last-start winner Simply Viv, trained by Dean Smith.

Dugan Dan, having his first start for Shelton, really caught the eye over an unsuitable 1100m at Grafton on November 24, steaming home into third behind Mr Tibula.

From eight starts over 1600m, Dugan Dan has two wins and three seconds and most importantly is considered adept in wet ground.

Placed twice in slow going and a win and two placings from three starts on heavy tracks, Dugan Dan, to be ridden by Stephen Traecey, will have plenty of admirers.

Following the Christmas Cup the Clarence River Jockey Club will hold a special presentation to honour Alan 'Laffy' Davidson and course curator of 26 years, David Abrahams, with life membership.

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