RACING By Geoff Newling
MARK Mason is hoping his annual return to his old home town might end in Barraba Cup success today and the Tamworth trainer is banking on two young female apprentices providing him with a second cup trophy.
The Tamworth trainer has not one but two chances of winning the $12,500 Barraba District Cattle Breeders Barraba Cup (1400m) today when he starts topweight Emotional Outburst and in-form mare Rhens.
Melissa Brown will ride seven-year-old gelding Emotional Outburst while Courtney van der Werf partners five-year-old mare Rhens, who has won her last two starts.
Van der Werf won on Rhens last time out over 1400m at Tamworth, the daughter of Royal Academy's sixth race win, at her debut for Mason.
"They've both had just the one ride for me and both won," Mason said at his Tamworth stable on Thursday afternoon.
"Mel rode Cascada for me at Armidale the other day. It was a nice win, she rode her very well, got caught a little deep but there was nothing much she could do about it. She didn't panic. That mare's gone to the paddock."
While Cascada has been spelled, Brown, who is indentured to Moonbi trainer Ruth Cooper (who will also start The Tapdancer in today's Cup Leanne Henry to ride), has been rewarded with the ride on Emotional Outburst, a son of Johannesburg, who has won three of his 19 starts.
He returned from a brief spell to finish fourth to Ollie Vollie in the Moree Town Plate on September 2, and while he hasn't since November 2009, he will most likely start favourite from his eight barrier and with Brown's 2kg claim.
"He might be the pick of the two," Mason admits.
"However, he's never raced on the dirt before. Always raced on the big turf tracks. But he's going good. Rhens hasn't started at Barraba but has won at Bingara and she's won her last couple. She also races up on the pace, that's her go whereas the other bloke will be ridden a bit quieter."
Mason didn't set the pair for the Barraba Cup but reckons it was more a lack of suitable races that left him with two starters in a home town Cup he has won just once.
"I would have been more than happy just to go up for the day," he laughed.
"But when I looked in the calendar (AJC Calendar) there was nothing there for them, no where to take them, so I might as well run both in the Cup.
"Old Night Call won it for me. Squizzy (Michael Squires) rode him," he recalled.
"He was a handy old horse. Mr Shinjuku nearly won it for me too and Name Day and Park Gem both ran third."
Barraba Cup day is a fun day and it won't take much for Mason to stay the night or two either.
"Got old Gypsy Gaze in at Tamworth on Monday, so as long as I'm home by 4pm I'll be right," he joked.
2010 Romantic Dream 2YO Plate winner, Gelido, is also a starter at Barraba today. Now trained by George Woodward at Walcha, the four-year-old gelding son of Falvelon won the Romantic Dream for Neil Godbolt nearly two years ago.
He won three of his first five races but hasn't won since in a 15-start career.
He jumps from barrier one in the fourth race of the day.
Old Drover is seeking his ninth race win when he starts in the third race of the day, the Burindi & Linton Station IGA Barraba Benchmark 55 Handicap.
Raced over 2450m, it is always a feature of the Barraba Cup day.
Old Drover will be one of the favoured stayers in this test too, as the Stephen Dixon-trained gelding has won eight of his 65 starts.
He's also won over 2200m at Scone, 2050m at Gunnedah, 1850m at Newcastle, 2100m at Tamworth and 2000m (Murrurundi Cup) at Quirindi.
His latest win, three starts back, was at Taree in a 2000m B60 handicap on August 17.
The Barraba meeting has six non-TAB races beginning at 1.15pm with the Plumthorpe Pastoral Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1720m).
n Turn to Sport Details for the Barraba fields and form guide.