Local mare chases dream to earn a spot in big smoke

COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP: It is a case of last call for the Greg Howells-trained Coastal Gem as she lines up in the $100,000 Northern Rivers Racing Association Country Championships Qualifier tomorrow.

The Country Champiosnhips Qualifier is her first race these preparations but if her last preparations are anything to go by Coastal Gem is set to give the field a major shake.

After spending six months off the track due to a heart arrythmia Coastal Gem put together a preparation including two wins and three placings with all but one coming at the Gold Coast.

“After her last run in the the last preparations we had a look at the qualifier and decided to put her in for a freshen,” Howells said.

“She only had about a month in the paddock and has been back in work for about ten weeks now.

“I would expect her to have at least four starts and win two of them in the next year so she would have been ineligible for next years Championships.

“You don’t get too many $100,000 Class 5 races with set weights at Grafton, in fact you don’t get many in the country at all so it was worth having a go at it while she still can.”

Coastal Gem has had one trial run on track at Coffs Harbour since her freshen in the paddock and ran in second behind Brett Belamy’s Ask Me To Dance, stablemate of Bonne Cheval who is also contesting tomorrow’s Qualifier.

“It was only a half mile trial and she is probably more a mile long horse,” Howells said. “It was just a bit of an exercise gallop for her.

“She will race well in the Qualifier, she is definitely not there to just make up the numbers. She will give it a fair shake.

“These big money races are not easy, and it is a tough field. Of the 16 horses running you could say probably at most two or three are outside chances and the rest are potential winners. That is the level of competition.

“I know Matthew Dunn is bringing a strong line-up to contest it and Jim Jarvis has a runner that has won its last three on the trot.”

The NRRA Country Championships Qualifier is scheduled to be race seven at the Blues, Brews and BBQs Day with it launching at 4.50pm.

Catch up with more news from the Championships inside Supaform.

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