By Glenn Davis
Olivia Cairns could be the new “Queen of the South” if Stellar Knight can give the Mackay trainer back-to-back wins in the TAB Battle Of The Bush Final at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Cairns earned the moniker “Queen Of the North” with her deeds on the central and north Queensland provincial circuits in recent years.
Cairns has been training since 2002 and has had great success up north and has a Townsville trainers’ premiership on her CV.
She also has won the “big three” of the north in the Cleveland Bay Handicap (twice), Townsville Cup and Parra Nissan as well as a Cairns Cup and Cairns Amateur Cup.
Cairns won last year’s inaugural Battle Of The Bush Final with Mason’s Chance and also saddled up Stellar Knight who finished fifth, less than two lengths behind his stablemate.
Stellar Knight was only an after-thought to run in last year’s 1200-metre feature when he snuck into the final by beating Mason’s Chance in a qualifying race at Home Hill.
“Stellar Knight was the reason Mason’s Chance had to travel half way around the world to qualify when he beat him in that qualifying race at Home Hill,” Cairns said.
“He probably raced in better company last year than he has this campaign but physically he’s a lot better now.
“I would have preferred a better barrier than 11 but there looks to be a lot of speed in the race so hopefully he can find a position.”
The six-year-old was beaten less than two lengths in last year’s final when it was held at Doomben.
Stellar Knight has won two of his past three starts at Home Hill in May and Bowen in June before a last start fifth behind Invisible Girl in a 1050-metre Benchmark race at Mackay on June 13.
Justin Stanley, who won last year’s final on Mason’s Chance, has had great success with Cairns over the years and will partner Stellar Knight.
Stellar Knight has started 53 times during his career for 12 wins and 10 placings with three wins coming in his first 18 starts under the care of his previous trainer Ben Currie in Toowoomba.
Cairns is confident Stellar Knight can overcome his awkward alley and is hopeful of success.
“It would be great to win this race again,” she said.
“I think the Mt Isa horse Deadly Choices looks the one to beat but it’s difficult to line up all these horses.
“It doesn’t look as strong a race as last year and if he can run up to his best, he’ll be hard to beat.”
Deadly Choices started his career in Victoria and is yet to miss a place in nine starts for Mt Isa trainer Damien Flinter with five wins and four placings.
Racing Queensland webnews June 20