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TAB Battle of the Bush - Barcaldine and Mareeba Contenders

By Craig Sheppard

Just two places in the TAB Battle of the Bush final remain. They will be decided at Barcaldine on Saturday and at Cairns on Monday. Originally the qualifier at Cairns was to be held at Mareeba last Saturday but due to rain, the meeting had to be abandoned. The winner at Cairns will represent Mareeba in the final.

Barcaldine

Kakakenny (4) has found form at the right time. Two starts back he stormed home to win the Longreach Battle of the Bush qualifier. He then went to Aramac and dominated a weight for age race over 1200m to win by 5.25 lengths. He carried 61.5kg at Longreach and now drops to 57.5kg. He looks well placed here.

Bush Caviar (1) went within a whisker of winning last year’s Battle of the Bush final. He is yet to qualify for this year’s final after two attempts. First-up after a nine-week spell he went forward but looked like he needed the run when finishing fourth in the Mount Isa qualifier. Last start he led into the straight with Fab’s Cowboy but was overpowered late to finish two-lengths back in second. He’ll have improved further here and has won four of seven third-up runs. From barrier 2 he should enjoy a great run. If the 64.5kg doesn’t take its toll then he’ll be right in the finish.

Avoid The Missus (8) came agonisingly close to qualifying for the final when run down in the shadows of the post at Longreach by Kakakenny. She meets that horse significantly worse at the weights. She is a winner at track boasting a five-length victory here in May 2018 last year. This will be the second year she has raced in the Barcaldine qualifier having finished six-lengths behind 2018 final winner Mason’s Chance.

 

Mareeba (to be raced at Cairns)

Little Stryker (4) found the line strongly to win at Townsville two starts back over 1000m. She then went to Bowen and again finished off quite well to finish fourth in the Battle of the Bush qualifier. The rise in distance suits and she did win her only other start over the course and distance which was in August last year. Barrier 1 should give her plenty of options in the run.

Exceedingly Kool (3) has been racing in good form lately. He was last seen finishing a close second at Atherton over 1000m. The start prior he put in a good showing at Townsville but was out outgunned late to finish 1.3 lengths from the winner. If he gets some luck from the outside gate then he looks right in this.

How Can I Help (1) put in a good showing to finish a half-length second in the Gordonvale qualifier over 1100m. He then finished 3.1 lengths behind Concluder in a Race To The Reef race at Atherton. Exceedingly Kool had his measure that day. Last start he weakened late over 1400m at Townsville in a tougher race but was only 1.8 lengths from the winner. The wide barrier may pose problems.

Banshee Jet (8) won in nice style at Atherton when resuming over 1000m. He then was narrowly beaten at Einasleigh over 1220m. He had limited luck when racing three-wide last start at Cairns, ultimately fading for a 4.5 length seventh. He draws nicely here and can hit back.