BLINKIN Artie will take some beating in Friday’s $35,000 Elders Walcha Cup (1440m).
That’s the assessment of the four-year-old gelding’s Taree trainer Ross Stitt, one of country racing’s best horsemen.
Stitt has already won the Walcha Cup with Fun Road, as well as a Ron Martin Memorial Maiden (with Stylish Mist) over 1000m, so he knows what it takes to swoop on the main races at the iconic Walcha track.
Blinkin Artie, to be ridden by Matthew McGuren, is coming off a last-start win – the gelding son of Artie Schiller winning over 1300m on his home track on January 21 when he sat third and fourth before swooping on the leaders for a sixth career win in 24 starts.
“He’ll be hard to beat,” Stitt said after the horse drew barrier five. “We’ve always had the Walcha Cup in mind third up. He’s a very sound horse. Size is his biggest problem, he’s not real big.”
Stitt won the Walcha Cup in 1988 with Fun Road, who, like Blinkin Artie, was an on-pace runner. That’s the trait a horse needs to be a chance at Walcha, he said.
“Walcha has been good to us,” he said.
Blinkin Artie was owned and raced by Stitt’s brother-in-law Errol French. Sadly he passed away recently and now the little gelding is raced by Stitt and his longtime friend Kerry Hollis.
“Kerry’s daughter Amanda works for me, she’ll be strapping Artie on Friday,” Stitt said.
There is also another Blinkin horse running at Walcha – Blinkin Snazzy.
Sue Grills trains Blinkin Snazzy, a four-year-old daughter of Big Brown, who has won once in 22 starts for her.
Grills trained for French for a number of years and another of his Blinkin horses – Blinkin Fast – won at Dubbo last Sunday for a new group of owners including Kim Newling, who works for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in Tamworth.
Blinkin Snazzy will run in Saturday’s $8000 Production Pasture Solutions Nivison Cup at Walcha. It is a benchmark 50 handicap over 1440m. Blinkin Snazzy was fifth at Deepwater last time out.
Saturday’s Walcha meeting is named in honour of the late trainer Cathie Brennan.
The Cathie Brennan Memorial Meeting also includes the Cathie Brennan Memorial maiden (1700m).”
“The Cathie Brennan Memorial Meeting has held up very well,” said Walcha Jockey Club secretary Kevin Ferrier of the five fields for Saturday.
“They are better than we usually get for Saturday’s second day. We even have three Queensland horses coming down for the meeting.”
The club will distribute $209,000 in prizemoney for its eight TAB races on Friday, and $40,000 for its five non-TAB races on Saturday.