Queen is the local hope in the Ramornie
BANDIT Queen, who goes by the stable name of Jemma, will carry the hopes of Grafton locals squarely on her back when she saddles up in today's $150,000 Crowe Horwath Ramornie (1200m) Handicap.
Trained by Mark Lynch, the five-year-old mare will attempt to become the first locally-trained horse to win the time honoured event since Mother's Gift in 2000.
As the pressure mounts towards raceday, Lynch, ever the realist, remains unfazed.
"Pressure. There's no pressure. They either win or they don't," the former top jockey who has held a trainers' licence for three years said matter-of-factly. "It's great to have my first runner in the Ramornie and it's exciting for the owners Brent Davenport, his wife Nicole and Joslyn May.
"Brent bred the mare. It would be great for them to see her win. If she could run in the first four, I'd be rapt."
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Davenport, of Akaroa Thoroughbreds, like Lynch, is not getting carried away in the Ramornie lead up.
"It should be a good day. It will be fun," Davenport said. "It's nice to have a runner in the race, especially one we bred ourselves. It's the locals hope so to speak.
"Realistically she's probably a place chance. She's a real homebody, likes racing at Grafton and has drawn a good barrier (four).
"If she could sneak a place, even fourth, it's black type that would go in the catalogue."
By California Dane out of Annalea, Bandit Queen qualified for the Ramornie with a slashing second to Villamill in last Thursday's John Carlton Cup.
"It was a real good run in the John Carlton," Lynch said. "Luke Rolls got off and said the same thing.
"She was very unlucky at her previous start in Brisbane. She missed the kick and got caught deep.
Lynch admitted Bandit Queen disappointed him at her previous start at Casino on May 30, following a first-up win at Grafton after 114 days.
There were excuses.
"She had a foot abscess. It came out a couple of days after Casino," Lynch revealed. "She's as good as gold at the moment. She came home and ate up after the John Carlton and there's nothing wrong with her.
"Once she's fit, and she is fit, she doesn't need a lot of work. She's done well since the run."\