By Glenn Davis
A perfect barrier draw has boosted Toowoomba trainer Lindsay Hatch’s hope for a happy homecoming with Kuttamurra Al in the Townsville Cup on Friday.
Kuttamurra Al drew barrier two in the 2000-metre feature and is coming off a last start fifth to Best Hoffa in last month’s Mackay Cup over 2000 metres.
The eight-year-old will be Hatch’s first Townsville Cup runner.
“He’s improved immensely since the Mackay Cup and his work on Monday morning was the best I’ve seen from him,” Hatch said.
“He had a good blow after the Mackay Cup and from the alley he should get a good run and look the winner at some stage in the straight.”
Hatch hails from North Queensland, where he grew up in Ayr.
“I went to school in Ayr and used to go to the Townsville races with my father,” Hatch said.
“I left there when I was 14 to become an apprentice in Brisbane where I rode 120 winners and won the Gold Coast apprentices’ title.
“I’ve still got a lot of friends in Townsville and it would be great to win the Cup.”
Meanwhile trainer Darryl Hansen had no luck in the barrier draw for the Cleveland Bay Handicap (1300m).
Hansen has three starters and one emergency in the Cleveland Bay, which is known as the Stradbroke of the North.
Hansen has topweight Monsieur Gustave (barrier 14), Doctor Zous (20) and Bring It Home Pop (10) in the main field and third emergency Fabulonh who drew gate nine.
Hansen is yet to win the famous north Queensland feature despite several attempts and rates Monsieur Gustave as his best hope.
“I’ve tried a few times to win the Cleveland Bay and I went close with Luxford who was beaten a short half head by Strictly Smart in 2003,” Hansen said.
“Unfortunately, most of mine have drawn bad but they’ll all come in a few positions if the emergencies don’t get starts.
“I rate Monsieur Gustave as my best hope on his last run and he’s thrived since he’s been in Townsville.”
Monsieur Gustave hasn’t won since he was successful at the Sunshine Coast in December, 2018.
However, his recent form has been strong with a placing in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes at Ipswich last month before finishing fourth to Warwick Avenue in the Newmarket Handicap at Mackay last start over the 1300-metre distance.
“He was a bit unlucky when caught wide in the Newmarket and if he gets the right run, he’s my best chance and will be hard to beat,” Hansen said.