The last chance

By TONY WHITE

THE racing future of locally-trained mare Aquatic Drive goes on the line tomorrow when, she tackles the $12,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m).

"If she wins the Prelude she will line up in the Grafton Cup, if not she's headed to stud to be a mum," the mare's trainer Terry Commerford said.

Commerford said the owners had organised her to be served by 1990 Golden Slipper winner, Canny Lad.

Aquatic Drive will be ridden by Craig Franklin tomorrow and drew barrier 8 in the 11-horse field.

The five-year-old mare was a last start eighth in the McKell Cup (2400m) at Rosehill behind Grafton Cup-bound, Dancing Daggers on June 18.

Commerford said Aquatic Drive had done very well since her last run.

"Her work on Saturday morning was really good," he said. "She's pleased me since Rosehill.

"On her run in the McKell Cup she will be hard to beat. It was probably her best run this campaign.

"Jockey Larry Cassidy said he probably took a couple of wrong options in the race and the mare should have finished closer."

Commerford nominated the Bruce Swan-trained Concitare and Rodeo Chute Out, prepared by Glen Hodge as the mare's toughest rivals in the Prelude.

"I'm using an old Bart Cummings idea, but I think we've got the wood on Concitare," Commerford said. "You've got to have the miles under your belt in staying races and Aquatic Drive has been in work since January while Concitare has been sparingly raced."

Aquatic Drive, By Sea Road, has won seven of her 43 starts and earned just shy of $80,000 in prizemoney.

Winner of the Prelude is exempt from ballot and penalty for the $175,000 XXXX Gold Grafton Cup (2400m) on Thursday week.

Thirteen horses accepted for the $12,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m) on the same program headed by last year's winner Sir Dan, trained by John Shelton.

The race has drawn together an even band of sprinters with local interest also surrounding the Felicity Firth-trained Umatrick, last start winner of the Newmarket at Murwillumbah.

Umatrick will be ridden by veteran New Zealand-born jockey Bruce Compton.

Fancied local sprinter Diamond And Ice drew well in barrier four and Phil McLeod's In Under There, barrier 7.

Sir Dan's stablemate Rebelette drew barrier 11.

Eight races will be staged on Westlawn Finance Prelude Day, which heralds the opening of the 10-day Grafton July racing carnival.



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