By Andrew Adermann
Rockhampton has capitalised on its home ground advantage, scoring near maximum points in the opening qualifiers of the inaugural Coral Coast Shield.
After the opening trio of races at Callaghan Park, Rockhampton sits atop the leaderboard thanks to two wins and a spate of placing across the series.
Shane Sigvart’s classy mare Chezblack set the tone in the first qualifier last week, coming from near-last in the straight to storm past the field and steal the barest of wins.
The former Victorian galloper extended her winning streak to three on the trot – all at Rockhampton – and made it a sixth win from 11 starts since making the move north.
Rocky’s home ground dominance continued yesterday, with the Adrian Coome-trained Buffy notching up another triumph on the leaderboard for his hometown.
The six-year-old mare justified her $3 favouritism, claiming a somewhat comfortable half-length win over fellow Rockhampton runner Angola Miss for John Wigginton.
“It panned out perfectly for us, we wanted to ride her quietly and we were able to do that,” Coome said.
“When Matty (McGillivray) peeled her out at around the 400, she responded and went to the line really strong.
“She found that extra gear which she probably needs to do heading towards the final.
“It was great to be able to contribute to the hometown’s tally in the series, we’ve taken a good lead early.
“The series is a great initiative, it gives all of our regional and country trainers a chance to compete in some feature races, especially this year when we lost a lot of our carnival races as a result of COVID.”
Mackay was the only other city to put runs on the board at Callaghan Park, after Rebecca Binder’s six-year-old gelding Heyington scored the maximum five points by claiming one of yesterday’s two qualifiers.
The John Manzelmann-trained Don’t Doubt Lara added a further two points to the tally by finishing third to Buffy.
The Series now heads north to Cairns’ Cannon Park, where the far north Queensland gallopers will be looking to get their first points on the board in a weeks’ time.
In what is its inaugural year, the Coral Coast Shield will stage a total of 12 heats of the Final on Saturday, November 28 with each city accruing points across the series.
Five points are allocated to each city for a win, with three points awarded to second place and two points for third.
Double points will go on offer at the Final, with almost $500,000 in prize money up for grabs across the series.
In addition, the winning city will secure $25,000 to go towards improving their patron or racing facilities, while each club will also boast a nominated charity partner which will share in a further $25,000.
Click here to read more about the Coral Coast Shield.