A ‘semi-trailer’ will converge on Dubbo this Sunday in an attempt to take home the major prize in the $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier.
Tibidabo, prepared by local Frank Hayes, will be having only her sixth race start and is given a fantastic chance by Hayes.
The mare won her maiden at Coonamble (over 1100m) last March and was expected to go on with the job at her second appearance at Gilgandra over 1000m, but things didn’t go according to plan.
“She ran stone motherless last of 12 runners,” Hayes explained. “It was her first time around Gilgandra on a soft (7) surface.
“It’s a tight, turning track and that doesn’t suit her. She’s a long-striding mare and it was like trying to drive a semi-trailer around a saucer.
“It was wet and slippery with mud everywhere. The jockey came back and also said she received a bump on the turn and to just forget the run.”
And forget Hayes did. In fact, the trainer gave such little credence to that inglorious performance he had no hesitation heading straight to the ‘big smoke’ with Tibidabo at just her third race start last August.
Incredibly, Tibidabo was sent out a despised $101 roughie but ran a mighty race when beaten only a short neck by Beside You in a TAB Highway race at Rosehill Gardens (1100m).
“Not one person gave her any chance, but I did,” Hayes declared.
“I knew if luck went her way she’d be right in the finish.
“As it turned out she was unlucky not to win the race as she was held up on straightening and then hesitated to take a run between horses halfway down the straight.
“She’s still a bit green and learning so that cost her.”
Hayes then took the four-year-old to Goulburn in September and Tibidabo did the rest, powering home to score over 1400m, albeit by a narrow margin.
“She just kept coming at the leaders and got home. She’s very determined and really showed that in her Goulburn win, however, she had a setback after that race,” Hayes said.
“She hurt her leg in a paddock accident and needed time to come good. This delayed her preparation by a couple of weeks.
“She has shown a lot of ability from day one and we always had the Country Championships in mind. And Saturday’s race at Dubbo second-up from the break should be suitable.”
Tibidabo resumed from a 22-week break with an eighth at Mudgee (1100m) on February 5, but the run was better than it appears.
“She badly needed that run and was still in contention with 150-metres to go but tired.
“She’s a good doer and needs plenty of work and has pleased me since Mudgee; I’m very happy with her condition.”
Hayes lives around six to seven kilometres from Dubbo so it makes an easy trip to the racetrack.
James Innes junior will ride Tibidabo at Dubbo and has a great record on the mare with the Goulburn win and the close Rosehill second resulting from his only two rides.
And the icing on the cake is a perfect barrier draw with gate number two.
TAB fixed odds has Tibidabo listed as third favourite at $9 behind favourite La La Loopsy ($2.70) and A Magic Zariz ($7).
- This preview of The Championships is brought to you by Racing NSW. Mark Brassel writes for Racing NSW Magazine, racingnsw.com.au and thechampionships.com.au