Tamworth farrier-trainer Zach Hatch can attest to long shots overcoming huge odds to win after his horse Cloud Cover came from the clouds to win Friday’s $30,000 Fibre Fresh Showcase Maiden Handicap (1000m) at Scone.
The Dungowan second-rower hopes the unlikely win is a good omen for the Cowboys’ do-or-die clash against reigning premiers North Tamworth at Dungowan Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
The Cowboys are heavy underdogs, as they cling to a faint hope of making the five-team semi-final series.
For that to happen, they have to beat Norths and hope Narrabri down top side Kootingal-Moonbi at Collins Park on Saturday. They also have to make up a 15-point for-and-against deficit to Narrabri.
Given that the Bears can also win the minor premiership with a big win over Dungowan, the Scott Blanch captain-coached Bears could be an even tougher proposition than usual. Probably the only people who think Dungowan can beat the Bears are the Cowboy players.
But Cloud Cover’s win proves fairytale’s do come true sometimes.
Hatch, who has a few horses in work at the Tamworth stables of his father, Mark, had a “few dollars” on the Travis Wolfgram-ridden horse at triple-figure odds. It was her maiden win.
She was $151 at one stage of betting and paid $97 on the NSW TAB when she stormed down the middle of the spacious Scone track to beat In Good Health (John Ramsey) by a narrow margin. Mack Griffith’s Humboldt was a close third.
Hatch said the Cowboys have to give North Tamworth a “caning” to have any chance of making the finals.
“We can beat them if we get our full side on the paddock and they all turn up to play,” he said.
One player who won’t be playing is Zach’s younger brother and fellow back-rower Liam.
“He had a badly broken nose playing oz tag the other week … [I] don’t know who will be in the second-row with me,” he said. “We’ve got some handy players. [We] just haven’t been able to get them all together. Norths are beatable.”
Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Hatch has enjoyed his first year at Dungowan. “We’ve had a good season. They are a great club – really looked after us, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
On Cloud Cover’s effort, he said: “It was a good win. I got her from Alex Martin over at Gunnedah. He’s been pretty crook. [He’s] got kidney failure and has to have a kidney transplant. [I] hope he improves. He said she [Cloud Cover] goes well but has a few issues.
“She has been working really well at home ... I did have her in at Inverell but couldn’t get a jockey, so I thought I’d come here to Scone. [I] was lucky to get a run.”
Cloud Cover was the fourth emergency.
“I’ll see how she pulls up,” he said. “She’s only a little, fine thing, doesn’t cop much work.
“[I’ll] find something for her. If she does keep on improving there might be a Highway for her in Sydney and go down as a travelling companion for Mighty Like.”
Mighty Like finished sixth in the recent Ramornie Handicap after a tough run. “I gave him a freshen up when he came home,” Hatch said. “At this stage I hope to take him to Sydney on the 25th [of August].”
He’s hoping Mighty Like might be in line for a Kosciuszko start. “[It would] be great if someone did pick him,” he said.