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Winter carnival heats up in Townsville

By Glenn Davis

The winter carnival in North Queensland focuses on Townsville’s Cluden Park this week with the running of the time honoured Cleveland Bay Handicap and Townsville Cup.

The Townsville carnival kicked off last Saturday with the Lightning Handicap which was won by the Leanne Ashford-trained Hidden In Heaven.  

This year’s Cleveland Bay Handicap will be run over 1300 metres on Thursday and carries a huge $100,000 in prizemoney.

The Townsville Cup over 2000 metres has a massive $150,000 in stakes money and will be run on Saturday.

A mammoth 36 nominations have been received for the Cleveland Bay Handicap while the Townsville Cup attracted 18 nominations.

Last year’s Cleveland Bay Handicap was won by the Roy Chillemi-trained Grey Missile while Lady Skills claimed the Townsville Cup for trainer Michael Geaney.

Gold Coast sprinter Dreams Aplenty is the highest rater and is topweight with 60kgs in the Cleveland Bay while Rockhampton galloper Mishani Vaidra will carry the number one saddle cloth in the Townsville Cup with a rating of 91.

Weights for the Townsville Cup will be released on Tuesday.

Dreams Aplenty was sent north by trainer John Zielke in search of the Northern Crown series for sprinters but failed to win in the Newmarket Handicaps at Rockhampton and Mackay.

The five-year-old finished third to the Paul Butterworth-trained Brisbane sprinter Wonder Boom in the Rockhampton Newmarket before a disappointing 11th to Mr Attitude in the Mackay Newmarket.

Wonder Boom is second topweight with 58kgs in the Cleveland Bay while Mackay Newmarket Handicap winner Mr Attitude is next in the weights with 57.5kgs along with Atherton sprinter Windmill Lane who has won five of his past eight starts.

Grey Missile has been entered again for the Cleveland Bay and will carry 55.5 kgs as it chases back-to-back wins in the feature.

The four-year-old son of Red Element has won nine times in 24 starts and is following the same path as last year when the gelding won the Cleveland Bay after claiming the weight-for-age Open Sprint at Townsville on July 9.

Grey Missile stormed home from near last on the home turn to repeat last year’s victory in the weight-for-age lead-up race to the Cleveland Bay Handicap.

Racing Queensland webnews   July 22