By Glenn Davis
Trainer Diane Murphy has 150-thousand reasons to be nervous about the prospects of former Darley sprinter Peacock in the FNQ Amateurs Open Sprint at Cannon Park on Saturday.
The big prize for the battling Beaudesert trainer is the lucrative $150,000 UBET Sprinters Northern Crown bonus if the six-year-old is successful on top of the $24,400 regular race prizemoney.
The Cairns Amateurs two-day carnival begins with the Ladies day program on Friday followed by Saturday’s $100,000 Cairns Amateur Cup.
Peacock earned the chance of snaring the UBET-sponsored Northern Crown bonus after claiming the Newmarket at Rockhampton on July 6 and the $50,000 Cairns Newmarket on the first day of the Cairns Cup carnival on August 4.
In between his two wins, the son of Lonhro failed in the $100,000 Cleveland Bay Handicap in Townsville in July and was again beaten at his last appearance at the same venue last month.
“He had barrier 14 last run at Townsville and was caught off the track and he felt his big weight (62kgs) towards the finish,” Murphy said.
“In the Cleveland Bay, we were in two minds whether to lead or take a sit and as it turned out he led and was run down.”
A field of only eight runners accepted for the Open Sprint but Peacock drew well in barrier two.
“I was a bit worried the field might drop right away but eight runners will do,” Murphy said.
“With a small field he’ll probably lead again like he did in the Cleveland Bay but if someone wants to take him on then he’ll just sit in behind the pace.”
Murphy is not feeling the pressure ahead of winning the biggest pay cheque in Queensland country race history but admits things might be different on race day.
“It would be nice to win the bonus,” she said.
“I’m not as nervous right now as I suspect I will be tomorrow.”
Regular rider Justin Stanley will partner Peacock again and also is booked for the Alwyn Bailey-trained Ranked in the Cairns Amateur Cup (2100m).
Murphy will call a halt to Peacock’s North Queensland campaign after his Cairns assignment and may give him one more run in Brisbane before he heads to the spelling paddock.
“His owner (Jim Pakis) has been up there all week with him and he’s really happy the way he’s been working,” Murphy said.
“I sent me equine massage therapist up last Wednesday and she reported he was in top order.
“This will be his final run up there and he’ll be back in my stables on Monday.
“I’d like to find a 1600-metre race for him next before he spells but he could go straight to the paddock.”
Peacock was formerly trained by James Cummings but was bought by Pakis for $80,000 at a Magic Millions sale and was immediately sent to Murphy to train.
Peacock is lining up for his sixth start for Murphy since he made his stable debut finishing sixth to Jamaican Rain in the Listed Glasshouse Handicap at the Sunshine Coast in June.
Racing Queensland webnews Sept 7