QUIRINDI trainer Geoff O'Brien will be aiming for a victory in one of five races at the Quirindi Jockey Club's Boxing Day meeting on Wednesday.
The Quirindi local will be pinning his hopes on his two chances in the Cactus Wilson Memorial, last start Muswellbrook winner Dominica and lightly raced Mahlia.
O’Brien said winning the $6000 Class 1 1100m sprint would be very special for him.
“I'd give my right arm to win it,” O’Brien said.
“I'll be doing my best to win it for him [Wilson].
“I knew him for many years, when I first moved to Blandford we became pretty good mates.
“He was one of the old school and had some good horses too. One of his real good ones was Cactus Jack.”
O'Brien started his training career in Scone before moving to Wellington then Blandford.
"I had about 18 months in Geoff Smith's old stables at Duri and then Sinclair (the late, great John "Mouse" Sinclair who was the QJC secretary) bailed me up one day and said I should come to Quirindi,” O’Brien said.
“I was there for a few years and then this place [his current stable] came on the market and I've been here ever since."
For Wednesday's edition of the Cactus Wilson Memorial, O’Brien has engaged rising apprentice star Wendy Peel, who rode a treble at Armidale ealier this week, to ride Dominica and Vad Bolozhinskyi will have the chance to ride Mahlia.
“She [Peel] is in form,” O'Brien said.
“And Vad will get the best out of the mare.
“She needs a rider who can sit down and ride her."
O’Brien said “while it would be nice” to claim a quinella, he wasn’t confident of pulling it off.
“I’ve never had a quinella before,” he said.
“Her [Dominica] last start was a good win over 1750m at Muswellbrook when she came from worse than midfield to win.
“I'd have liked a bit more ground for her but there was nothing around so it's 1100m first up, it is a little bit short for her."
Then there is Mahlia, a daughter of Foxwedge with one win at the Tomingley picnics in her seven starts.
“I thought I could make a stayer of her,” O’Brien said.
“She's by Foxwedge, a big leggy thing.”
O’Brien said being at home would be advantage for Mahlia and “she goes pretty quick”.
However, O’Brien believes “there are a couple of others that will go pretty good” in the race.
The Cactus Wilson Memorial has drawn the biggest field of the day on a day more famous for its social atmosphere and big crowd.
O’Brien said the Quirindi track was in good shape.
“We had another 20mm recently as well,” he said.
“Had a wild storm too, one of the wildest I've seen for 20 years but the track will be perfect.”
Wednesday’s action begins at 2.05pm with the White Hart Hotel Murrurundi Cup.
The day’s eight-runner feature event, the Cactus Wilson Memorial will cap off the day’s racing at 4.35pm.
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