IN THE SPIRIT: Cassandra Schmidt rides River Spirit today Grafton.PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN/THE QUEENSLAND TIMES
IN THE SPIRIT: Cassandra Schmidt rides River Spirit today Grafton.PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN/THE QUEENSLAND TIMES

River Spirit just loves it when the going gets heavy

"He loves it wet, gets through heavy tracks good," the Ballina-based trainer said.

The six-year-old gelding by Bel Esprit has had three starts on a heavy surface for a win and two seconds.

River Spirit will line up in the Tradesman's Day 24/4 Flying Hcp over 1215m with star apprentice Cassandra Schmidt in the saddle.

While River Spirit is accomplished in wet ground, Lee said yesterday he was unlikely to start Voltaire Lumiere in the Championships Series 20/3 Hcp (1420m).

"I don't want to start him on a heavy track over 1400 metres for the first time and rip the guts out of him," Lee said. "Especially as it's the last race on the day.

"I can still get him ready for the Country Championships race at Grafton and I'm looking at starting him at Ipswich next Wednesday.

"There's still plenty of time to get him ready."

The $100,000 NRRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) is staged at Grafton on March 20.

The $300,000 Country Championship Final (1400m) is run at Randwick on April 4 with the first two in each of seven heats staged across the state qualifying.

River Spirit has had three runs since resuming from a 172-day spell - "all good efforts", according to Lee.

"His first two runs in Brisbane were both good, then last start at Grafton he loomed up to go past them but just battled the last bit," Lee said.

"He's won over 1400 metres, so the 1200 metres on a heavy track should be like a 1400 metres race anyhow.

"He's done well since Grafton. He's fit now after three runs back.

"He had a nice easy gallop last Tuesday and came through it well and has done plenty of work aqua walking."

Lee and Schmidt have a soft spot for the gelding.

"He's a beautiful horse," Lee said. "A solid, compact horse that is easy to do anything with.

"Cassandra has got an eye on him as a dressage horse when he finishes racing. She won't let anyone else on him."

River Spirit gets into the event with just 54kg.



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