By Courtney Rees, The Daily Advertiser
IT was ladies’ day at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Sunday as the fairer sex dominated the $100,000 SDRA Country Championship Qualifier (1400m).
Three-year-old filly Loved Up continued the impressive start to her career, coming from the back of the pack to pounce on the quality field. The Brett Cavanough-trained filly timed her run to perfection as she stormed home to book her place in the $300,000 final on April 4.
The widest runner on the track, Loved Up ($8) ran past Scott Spackman’s mare Yet Tobe Convinced ($6.50) to win by a half length, with fellow three-year-old High Opinion ($9) a further two lengths back in third.
Settling near last from barrier, the Albury trainer wasn’t too concerned with where the filly was placed coming into the straight.
“It was always the plan to ride her back as she has a really good turn out foot,” Cavanough said. “I said to Ritchie (Bensley) to keep her bottled up and wait as long as you can.
“He couldn’t wait any longer and she won by half a length so he timed it quite good.”
The win brings the daughter of Nicconi’s record to four wins more nine starts. Cavanough has also had a good opinion of the filly and despite finishing unplaced in her last two runs at Moonee Valley he never doubted her.
“She’s always had a touch of class and we just wanted a left-handed whip rider and it helped and we got the lot,” Cavanough said.
The Albury trainer has picked out one of his hometown features, the Albury Guineas in two weeks as her next assignment before tackling the $300,000 final. Cavanough, along with Wagga trainer Chris Heywood, led the nominations with five horses.
Only three gained runs with Via Torrone finishing fifth and leader Miss Mellencamp dropping out to finish last of the 16 horses.
Cavanough thought the Miss Mellencamp over raced in front, and hasn’t given up Championship aspirations with the mare.
“They went super but were probably outclassed,” Cavanough said.
“They haven’t been beaten far, Miss Mellencamp over raced with the blinkers on and might go to Musselbrook for the repecharge or the Albury carnival.”
MTC chief executive Scott Sanbrook was impressed with the 1100-strong crowd.
The Championships have been a big boost to country racing, and Wagga’s meeting was no exception.
“We were rapt with how the day went,” Sanbrook said.
“The racing was outstanding and the Country Championship qualifier exciting.”
Pictured: FIGHTING FINISH – Loved Up flies past her rivals to win the $100,000 SDRA Country Championship Qualifier at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Sunday.