By Glenn Davis
Inaugural Battle Of The Bush winner Mason’s Chance will return to the scene of his greatest triumph when he attempts to claim the Country Cups Challenge Final at Doomben on Saturday.
Trainer Olivia Cairns will also saddle up Mustarrid in the 1630-metre feature which is the culmination of 16 country qualifying races from around the State.
The first qualifier was held at Longreach in September with the final heat at Roma on November 16.
The $105,000 final attracted a capacity field of 15 with five emergencies and like the Battle Of The Bush Final has been a big hit with country trainers.
Cairns has a slight leaning to Mason’s Chance after the gelding drew barrier five compared to Mustarrid’s gate 11.
Mason’s Chance was crowned Queensland bush champion when he won the $100,000 Battle Of The Bush Final at Doomben in June last year.
However, the six-year-old subsequently suffered a massive form slump and didn’t win again for 16 months until he won at Bowen on October 12.
Since then Mason’s Chance has rediscovered his old form and won twice at Townsville before a last start second to The Baker in an Open Handicap (1400m) at Rockhampton on November 17.
Mustarrid also was successful in Townsville at the start of the month before a last start fifth behind The Baker and Mason’s Chance at Rockhampton.
“Mason’s Chance's second at Rocky last start was very good and probably better than when he won in Townsville,” Cairns said.
“From barrier five he’ll be midfield and he should get the last crack at them.
“It took him a while to find his old form again but I think he’s in the same form now as when he won the Battle Of The Bush Final last year."
Cairns isn’t ruling out Mustarrid’s hopes of an upset.
“He’s the toughest horse I’ve ever trained,” she said.
“Most of his wins have been when horses have gone past him and he kicks back.
“He’s a real iron horse and there’s no secret to him. He likes to lead and he’s tough.
“If he gets into a dogfight, I’d back him every time.”
Cairns rates The Baker as the hardest to beat for her pair.
“I’d love to quinella this race but realistically that’s going to be very hard and The Baker did well to beat us last start and looks our danger again,” she said.
Racing Queensland webnews November 28