Trainer Lyle Chandler will give promising mare Rapbidash at least two chances to earn a spot in the Newhaven Park Hunter & North West Country Championships but hopes she’ll need only one in Saturday’s TAB Highway (1200m) at Randwick.
The four-year-old, a winner of three of her four starts, hasn’t raced since an unlucky defeat in a Highway in December and Chandler decided then if he was to target the rich series he had to be intentional about it.
Chandler learned from his experience with tough galloper Banju two years ago that a Country Championships campaign as an afterthought isn’t ideal, even though the gelding narrowly missed a spot in the Final.
“I’m mindful it’s a long road to the Country Championships,’’ Chandler said.
“Banju was less planed and a bit more coincidental. She’ll have to prove she’s good enough.
“I thought if we laid a pathway to the Country Championships and she steps up we can go that way.
“From what I’ve seen at home, I’m not very hard on them, with natural progression I think she’ll be up to the task.”
Rapbidash, $6.50 with TAB on Friday, brings inaugural Country Championships Final winner Mitchell Bell to town on a Saturday and Chandler said the jockey has been a fan since her debut win.
It was her first-up win last preparation that got the pair excited when she gave away a big start and ran down Black Duke.
“Mitch has always been very keen on her,’’ he said.
“When he came back to scale after she broke her maiden he said ‘you’ll need a crowbar to get me off this horse’.
“First-up at Newcastle over 1200m, it was a pretty competitive race and she dropped right back and ran good time. That showed us she was relatively smart.
“Going to the Highways you always worry about traffic and as we saw last time she was probably the best horse in the race but she got a lot of bad luck.”
Chandler concedes Rapbidash, who is a $15 chance in TAB’s Country Championships Final market, is a little vulnerable having just had the one jump out at home but from a favourable draw it means she’ll likely not need to concede a huge start.
So if she happens to be beaten but still runs well he has another Highway in two weeks at Rosehill over 1400m to top her off for Tamworth.
“I think she’s fit enough for the 1200m but she’s not totally screwed down,’’ he said.
“She doesn’t have to drop to last but better than midfield might be slightly ambitious. I’d rather try to stick to the regular pattern.
“If she won I’d probably lean towards trialling her before going to Tamworth. If she just runs well I might have to run her again because you probably have to get a rating in the mid-70s to guarantee a place.”
The $150,000 Newhaven Park Hunter & North West Country Championships (1400m) is run at Tamworth on March 10, with the $1 million Final at Royal Randwick on April 6.
– Racing NSW