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Battle of the Bush champ set for Rockhampton Newmarket

6 July 2022

By Glenn Davis

The southern invasion has begun in a big way for the Central Queensland winter carnival but Mackay trainer Olivia Cairns hopes to repel the early challenges with Ammoudi Bay in the Newmarket Handicap at Rockhampton on Friday.

Cairns saddles up Battle Of The Bush winner Ammoudi Bay in the $100,000 feature over 1300 metres and is confident the gelding can complete a hat-trick of wins.

The Starcraft gelding won at Home Hill over 1180 metres on May 21 before last start claiming the $200,000 Battle of the Bush Final at Eagle Farm on June 25.

Both wins were on good-rated tracks, while Callaghan Park is currently in the heavy range but that doesn’t deter Cairns (pictured with jockey Justin Stanley after the Battle of the Bush triumph).

“He’s won on a heavy track and has won five times on slow tracks so he should handle it,” Cairns said.

“A lot of horses are coming up from the south but he’ll hold his own.

“He’s no certainty after he won the Battle Of The Bush but he’s taking strong form into the race.”

Cairns won the inaugural Battle Of The Bush final with Mason’s Chance in 2018 and is looking for back-to-back wins in the Newmarket Handicap after claiming last year’s race with Last Chance.

It was her first Rockhampton Newmarket silverware to go in the trophy cabinet alongside a Mackay Newmarket, Cleveland Bay and Townsville Cups.

Brisbane jockey Justin Stanley won both Battle Of The Bush finals on the Cairns-trained sprinters and will partner Ammoudi Bay again in the Newmarket Handicap.

“His win in the Battle Of The Bush was very good,” Cairns said.

“I thought he had superior form going into that race but – as they say - you’re never over the line until you’re over the line.

“It was a very dominant win but the Newmarket looks a tougher race.

“He’s a very inquisitive horse so we like to change things around to keep him happy.”

Of the 13 Newmarket starters, seven are from the south-east including the David Vandyke-trained Desert Lord and Tony Gollan’s trio, Palladas, Pull Anchor and Vinco.

Cairns rates Sir Warwick as the main threat after Ammoudi Bay finished fourth to the Toowoomba galloper in $75,000 The Fitzroy at Rockhampton in May.

“Sir Warwick looks the one to beat after his win in The Fitzroy on Archer day but I think my horse is going better now,” she said.

The Newmarket Handicap will also see the “Wizard Of The West” William Pike ride Palladas.

Pike has been in brilliant form during the TAB Queensland Winter Carnival, winning the Group 1 Queensland Oaks on Gypsy Goddess, the Group 1 J J Atkins on Sheeza Belter and the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup on London Banker at Eagle Farm last month.