By Craig Sheppard
Following last weekend’s qualifying heats, we now have half the final TAB Battle of the Bush field decided. This Friday and Saturday we’ll find out who will represent Cunnamulla, Nanango and Thangool at the June 22, Eagle Farm final.
Cunnamulla 24 May
Originally the Cunnamulla qualifier was scheduled for Anzac Day but was postponed to Friday 24 May due to rain.
Fab’s Cowboy (1) will be taking part in his third qualifying race in 2019. Last start in the Longreach qualifier, he found the front in the straight but was swamped late to finish fourth by just over a half-length. That was his first blemish in a preparation that has seen him win four of five starts, including a victory in the Gladstone leg of the series two starts back. He’s the one they have to beat.
Avoid The Missus (10) won at Barcaldine over 1000m two starts ago in a BM65 race. She handled the rise to Open company well when finishing a close second in the Longreach qualifier. She looked the winner but was picked off in the shadows of the post by Kakakenny. She beat home Fab’s Cowboy and now meets him 1kg better at the weights.
Music Scene (9) was very good in the Warwick qualifier given that he was never on the track. He was forced to work overtime sitting three-deep in the run and only weakened late to finish 1.3 lengths from Machu Picchu. Unlike that day, he draws a good gate so expect a big performance. He has also accepted for Nanango.
Bush Caviar (2) resumed from a nine-week spell in the Mount Isa qualifier. Last year’s Battle of the Bush finalist runner-up performed solidly to finish 2.75 lengths behind Split The Atom. He’ll be fitter here second-up but is awkwardly drawn in the outside gate.
Nanango 25 May
Baker Boy (1) was first-up following a 23-week spell when he competed in the Warwick qualifying leg. The Brenton Andrews trained gelding settled well back in the run but motored home to finish just over a length from Machu Picchu in third. The extra distance here will suit second-up and notably he meets Machu Picchu 3kg better at the weights.
Machu Picchu (6) showed plenty of fight to win the Warwick qualifier and book her spot in the final at Eagle Farm. She led the field into the straight and it appeared they may catch her but she found a kick to record a 0.75 length victory. She rises 3.5kg following that win. Her record over 1200m isn’t flattering with just one win from ten starts. However, that win did come at this course just three starts back.
Go Get Sum (5) didn’t have the best of runs in the Warwick qualifier. He was posted wide and back and had to make his run further out than what they would have liked. He finished the race off fairly considering that to finish 2.3 lengths from the winner in seventh. His form prior to that was good with a second in the Flinton Cup and also a half-length third to Fab’s Cowboy in the Goondiwindi Picnic Cup three starts back. He gets his chance to bounce back after drawing well in barrier 2.
Music Scene (8) as mentioned above, has also accepted for the Cunnamulla qualifier. Drawing the outside gate would probably suggest that connections will head to Cunnamulla but he’s definitely a contender if he races here for the reasons mentioned above.
Thangool 25 May
Ossenhagen (2) can be forgiven for finishing 17.3 lengths from the winner in the Yeppoon Cup. It was a heavy track and many horses just didn’t handle the conditions that day. The start prior he won at Mackay in Open company over 1200m where he drew the outside gate. If he runs up to that then he looks tough to hold out from the inside gate. He’s experienced at the track with a win and a second from two starts.
Gendebien (1) was beaten by seven-lengths in the Quilpie Newmarket at Charleville two starts back when finishing second. He hit back strongly to fight out the finish of the Charleville Battle of the Bush qualifier with Malibu Affair where he was beaten by under a half-length. He’s obviously taken no harm from that run as trainer Wayne Baker is backing him up quickly. From barrier 3 he should enjoy the run of the race.
All Host (5) didn’t put his best put forward when finishing seventh in the Bundaberg qualifier. He was caught deep and then ran to the outside of the track entering the straight which really prevented any chance of him playing a role in the race. Prior to that run he finished second by a length at Rockhampton over 1500m and had also won at Gladstone five starts back. If he can improve a touch he can feature.
Mystic Forces (3) settled last in the Warwick qualifier and didn’t really threaten, finishing 3.1 lengths ninth. He finished off fairly which was encouraging. He has a good record at the track and while it was in December last year, he has beaten Ossenhagen.