By Glenn Davis
Home ground advantage is expected to play a prominent role for trainer Glenda Bell who launches a three-pronged attack on the Country Cups Challenge Qualifier at Emerald on Friday.
Bell has topweight Fastnet Flyer, Le Dude and Addicted all bidding for a place in the $105,000 Country Cups Challenge Final over 1600 metres at Doomben on December 5.
Apart from a brief 12-month stint training in Rockhampton, Bell has trained for almost 20 years at Emerald.
She rates Le Dude as the pick of her trio following the eight-year-old’s last start second to Regal Reece at Yeppoon last month.
“He led last time and was a bit hard to hold for her rider Elyce Smith but she’ll be riding him again,” Bell said.
“All of my three have strong chances but I think Le Dude is the pick of them.
“I’m leaning towards Le Dude to make the final but any of the three can get in.”
Bell had no luck with her sole runner The Baker who finished ninth to Deadly Choices in last year’s Country Cups Challenge Final.
Bell has warned punters to ignore topweight Fastnet Flyer’s last start sixth to I Can I Will I Am over 1400 metres at Yeppoon on October 1.
“The track was too hard for him that day and he’ll go a lot better on a softer track like Emerald,” she said.
“If Le Dude stops Fastnet Flyer will be coming home over the top of him.
“It’s the first race he’s been in to try to qualify for the final.”
Bell also expects a strong showing from Addicted who has finished second at his past two starts at Clermont since winning over 1300 metres at Emerald in September.
“He’s always been a good honest performer and he’s the smokey out of my three runners,” she said.
“If Le Dude settles, he’ll be very hard to beat but it’s really hard to split all my three runners.”
Click here for more information on the Country Cups Challenge.