ARMIDALE trainer Sandra McCormack has been trackside to witness Storm Ahead’s three victories to date but today, when the gelding rates a strong chance in the 1300m John Fryer Carpet Cleaning Benchmark 51 Handicap on his home track, McCormack will be at a wedding in Coffs Harbour.
Also absent from the Armidale course will be Nathan Mace, manager of the strong syndicate of local owners.
“He’ll be at a wedding too – here in Armidale,” McCormack said.
While six-year-old Storm Ahead (Raymond Spokes) hasn’t won over today’s 1300m trip, he has placed twice from three attempts at the journey. And he’s won two from three on the local turf.
His three victories to date have been over 1000m and 1400m in Armidale maiden and class one respectively, then two starts back he stormed ahead to victory over 1400m in a BM65 at Tamworth.
“He’s a big horse but a lovely gentle big fellow – would lick you to death,” McCormack joked.
“He’s working along well and we decided this would be a nice race for him close to home.
“We may turn him out after this race though, then freshen him up for some of the popular races around Christmas – even Inverell perhaps.”
Since his win on a heavy track at Tamworth on September 17, Storm Ahead has finished fourth of 11 over 1400m on a dead track in Tamworth Class 3 before his latest five length- sixth over 1200m in Class 3, again at Tamworth on October 14.
“We were pretty happy with his previous fourth at Tamworth but his following race there was a bit disappointing,” McCormack said.
“He pulled a fair bit there. Instead of settling, he tended to reef and tear.
“If he can settle tomorrow, he’ll be a good chance.”
But a possible threat could be the Jane Clement-trained Wolfgangs Boy, who was a strong winner over 1200m at Gunnedah a fortnight ago.
Like Storm Ahead, he is yet to win over the 1300m distance, but can boast victory on the Armidale track, even though that was two years ago in Class 1 company.
On that occasion, he was ridden by apprentice jockey Rachael Murray, who will also guide the reins on him today.