WINNER: Jockey Dan Ballard rides Deadly Choices to victory at the 2019 Country Cups Challenge.
WINNER: Jockey Dan Ballard rides Deadly Choices to victory at the 2019 Country Cups Challenge.

Country Cups Challenge decided

RACING: The second running of the $105,000 Country Cups Challenge at Doomben last weekend was taken out by six-year-old gelding Deadly Choices.

The silverware is heading to Mount Isa with trainer Damien Finter. Premier country Queensland jockey Dan Ballard, also from Mount Isa, gained the start by winning the Cloncurry qualifying Country Cups heat.

Deadly Choices ($8) and Ricky Vale’s Yeppoon Cup winner San Cincero with Mark Du Plessis in the saddle broke away at the 300m mark to fight it out. Deadly Choices outgunned the Rockhampton-trained galloper in the last 50m to take the 2019 edition of the Country Cups.

The Carolan family from Barcaldine lined up with the Todd Austin-trained Longreach and Birdsville Cup winner French Hussler, who stuck on well for third placing after a tough run in transit.

Emerald Jockey Club president Leon Roberts said he hoped next year’s Emerald 100 would again be a qualifying race for the Country Cup final and that it was a great spectacle to see the country-trained gallopers be in the running for $105,000.

Pioneer Park trainer Raymond Williams and his partner Tracey Leake made the 1600km round trip to Kilcoy with their veteran galloper Bootshaker, who lined up in the $30,000 Kilcoy Cannonball final over 800m.

That was taken out by Tony Gollan’s runner Godfathers Girl ($1.60), ridden by Alannah Fancourt, who had to pull out all stops to run down race leader and second placegetter Bootshaker ($7.50) with Hannah English in the saddle.

Williams and Leake picked up $5300 in prizemoney for their efforts and in total $8600 for the sprint series after Bootshaker’s second placing in the Gatton heat.

At Saturday’s meeting at Callaghan Park, Glenda Bell will line up with possibly four runners, including last-start winner Brooke’s Pleasure in the Class 3 Plate over 1050m, ridden by Nigel Seymour.

Bell also saddles up her new stable addition Knuckle Up in the Benchmark 55 Handicap.

On form, all of her runners will be highly competitive and feature in the finish for a hopeful early Christmas boost for her loyal band of punters.


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