Smart eyes picnic championships

Georgian Court, pictured here winning the Burrangong Cup, will turn out for Todd Smart in the NSW Picnic Racing Association Championship final at Dubbo on Sunday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Todd Smart will venture to Dubbo on Sunday, with recent stable addition Georgian Court contesting the NSW Picnic Racing Association (PRA) Championship final, worth $50,000. 

The event is set aside annually for the top 12 picnic horses in NSW, with trainers often venturing far and wide for valuable (PRA) points and a chance to contest the feature picnic racing event. 

Oddly, Georgian Court was put up for sale by previous owners prior to the final and the recent $3000 purchase will have her first start for Smart in the final, giving connections a chance for an immediate return.  

“Ben McAllister bought her online for $3000 and I’ve had her five weeks now,” Smart said.

“She had a lock of checks and a stomach full of ulcers when we got her. She is a stressy type of mare but she will be better now because If you have a dirty engine, you don’t run good and she needed a good clean out.”

The six-year-old has three career wins from 33 starts, while running nine placings and earning over $50,000 in prizemoney.

It will be a tough task for the Turffontein mare though, who will be first up in the feature event, jumping from gate 10 and coming up against some of the best picnic campaigners in the state. 

“We gave her a 1000m jump out last week. First up at 1400m, some people might think she is a little suspect but we have done a fair bit of work with her and she doesn’t look like she will take much to get fit,” Smart said. 

The Canberra trainer and his connections have made a habit of making some astute purchases in recent times, and Smart said Georgian Court had the makings of another good pick up for the stable. 

“I think she will go well; you sort of buy these horses online and it’s a bit of a surprise sometimes but whatever she does in this race, she will go better next time,” Smart said. 

“She will definitely win a couple of races that’s for sure.”

The former Gundagai trainer will get a helping hand too, with experienced hoop Alan Barton taking the ride.  

“I actually rang Billy Owen up and asked him what he thought of the jockeys available and he thought with Alan being a bit more experienced, it might help,” Smart said. 

Smart will only take one to Dubbo, but before that, he will be racing at Goulburn on Friday, with Hallo Poppet contesting the 2100m Benchmark 58 Handicap.

Patrick Scorse is in the saddle and from gate one, Smart thinks the recent Canberra winner is a good each chance and should easily run out the staying journey. 

“I think we are at the right distance but it will depend on how the track will play,” Smart said. 

“Sometimes being on the inside isn’t ideal but I expect we will sit midfield with cover and run a strong 2100m out.”

Sutherland disqualified

Southern District trainer Trevor Sutherland has been handed a three-year disqualification by Racing NSW stewards following an inquiry on Tuesday into the disposal and subsequent slaughter of racehorses and evidence that Sutherland had made false declarations regarding the whereabouts of another horse. 

In the most serious of charges, Racing NSW stewards found that Sutherland had knowingly disposed of the thoroughbred horses Rozzi and Redfu in April 2020, in the knowledge that such horses were to be destroyed on the property of registered owner Donnchadh Brown.

Sutherland pleaded not guilty but was disqualified for a period of three years.

In the second charge laid against Sutherland, the Wagga trainer pleaded guilty to a charge of having failed to report the relevant death notification form, that Bless You Toby was found to be deceased on July 7, 2020. 

Further to the death of Bless You Toby, Sutherland also pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false declaration, that on July 13, 2020 he declared through the lodgement of a stable return that Bless You Toby was spelling at Yass.

This declaration was proven to be false, as Sutherland was aware that Bless You Toby had been found to be deceased on July 7, 2020.

Sutherland was disqualified for six months for the second and third charges.

In determining that Sutherland would serve a three-year disqualification in total, Racing NSW stewards took into account Sutherland’s not guilty and guilty pleas entered, his clean record and long licensing history and references provided.

Sutherland, who was initially stood down from racing on August 22, 2020, had his licence suspended until August 22, 2023 but has since appealed the decision. 

At the same inquiry, Donnchadh Brown was disqualified for four years for disposing of Redzu, Rozzi, Hangin’ With Willy and Witchblade; all of which were previously trained by Sutherland.

Winners and losers

Todd Smart ventured to Queanbeyan on Tuesday with Mr Maharaj, who finished sixth and was beaten 2.9 lengths in the 1200m Class Two Handicap. 

Blaike McDougall had the Canberra runner at the rear of the field, before hitting the line strongly. 

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Peter Korn was also at Queanbeyan on Tuesday, with Princess Kalli running fourth and beaten 1.81 lengths in the 1460m Benchmark 58. 

It was a good run and the former Tumut jockey turned trainer will be hoping to see his seven-year-old mare win a race or two this preparation.

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The locally owned Reason To Smile jumped from gate seven in the same 1460m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Queanbeyan for Norm Gardner but only managed to finish sixth and was beaten 3.25 lengths. 

Kayla Nisbet was aboard the Unencumbered mare that struggled to find the line with any real zest. 

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The Tumbarumba owned Olifants heads to Griffith on Saturday, jumping from gate eight in race two, the 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap. 

The Doug Gorrel runner that is part owned by Gordan Kelso, will have Simon Miller in the saddle and should strip fitter after his first up run at Canberra late last month. 

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Gundagai trainer Andrew Sheahan will head to Griffith on Saturday too, with The Goose contesting race three, the 1200m Maiden Plate.  

Aaron Sweeney is booked for the ride and connections draw gate one. 

The four-year-old Warhorse gelding hasn’t been seen since finishing eighth at Albury in July last year and it will be interesting to see what a year off did for the Sheahan runner. 

Jockey watch

Aaron Bullock rode another winner on Monday, booting home Urbino for Kris Lees in the 1450m Maiden at Kempsey, winning by 1.01 lengths. 

Bullock will do some kilometres this week in search of more winners, riding at Tuncurry today after booking four rides, before traveling to Dubbo on Saturday for three rides and backing up at Tamworth on Monday with four rides.