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  4. Homann stable set for biggest thrill of her career in TAB Battle of the Bush

Homann stable set for biggest thrill of her career in TAB Battle of the Bush

Photo credit: Peter Roy

501-1664-2.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Tolga trainer Nicole Homann thinks a series such as the TAB Battle of the Bush is made for people like her.

Homann, a former jockey, pokes around with two or three horses at a time at her Atherton Tablelands stable – on top of juggling her work commitments down at the local supermarket and her children.

Now, she gets the opportunity to race on the same program as some of the biggest stables in Australia and New Zealand after qualifying Evil Eye Mac for the BOTB Final on Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 26.

No one in the Mareeba betting ring game the Homann galloper a chance on Saturday, the rank outsider of the five-horse field.

But top FNQ jockey Lacey Morrison was not worried about the odds and perceived lack of class of her ride, popping through a gap on the home turn before winning by two lengths on the line.

Late last year, Homann recorded her first triumph since September 2013 as a trainer and now less than a year later, her tiny stable is heading to the big smoke in the Sunshine State.  

Homann took a break from training to raise her daughter, who will soon turn six later this year, and was smiling proudly of her mother track side on Saturday.

“This race series is wonderful, it brings people like me to the fore,” a beaming Homann said post-race.

“It is a big thrill to be eligible for a race like the Battle of the Bush Final.

“We are lucky we started in this race today, turned up and we got the job done.”

Evil Eye Mac’s part-owner, Eddie Sharman, has had a few horses with Homann over the years and believes she is a hidden gem in the north Queensland training ranks.

“It is great, it shows the potential she has got as a trainer,” Sharman said.

“No one else really sees it, people don’t send her many horses, they will go to the bigger trainers with bigger stables, but this is a big chance for her now to get herself going.

“It will be great for her.”

501-1671-2.jpgJockey Morrison remembers riding with Homann a few decades ago and is pleased to be able to deliver her stable one of the biggest achievements in her career so far.

“It is great for Nicole, everyone is putting in the effort and it is great to get some results,” Morrison said.

“We work together well, Nicole takes on board my advice after riding track work for her.

“He is a pretty easy horse to manage, Nicole knows what she is doing, she has been in the industry for a long time now.

“She was a good rider when she was younger, she was actually a senior apprentice jockey when I was just starting out.

“We have been friends for a long time and since I have started riding work for her, we have become closer friends again.”

Only a tiny field of five assembled for the Mareeba heat - run over 1210 metres as an Open Handicap - with Evil Eye Mac finishing ahead of the Georgie Holt-trained Hit Snooze.

Mareeba Turf Club President Alex Malliff described a BOTB slot as a “dream come true” for any country trainer.

“We really tried to pump up the day here at Mareeba to be all about the Battle of the Bush,” Malliff said.

“The concept of country gallopers going to the city to take on the best of the best of the other country gallopers, it is exciting.

“These concepts bring us all together in the country areas, we all go through the same things in the bush, the travel and the hard times.

“To race for that prize money, it is a big bonus for all of us.”

Malliff, who is also a local trainer in Mareeba, believes concepts like the BOTB are drawing new audiences into the racing industry.

“Everybody in our game is excited about the Battle of the Bush but I am trying to bring in get people outside of the racing game to get involved, too,” he said.

“Country towns like Mareeba, there is a real equine feel around the town and we have been promoting it via our Facebook and the local paper.

“People are coming up to me and asking, 'what is the Battle of the Bush?' - they see it and want to understand what it is all about.

“And once they know about it, they get excited about it, as well.”

Three heats were contested this weekend, at Mareeba, Cloncurry and Goondiwindi, with Cloncurry’s heat claimed by trainer Steven Royes and Kapset.

At Goondiwindi, David Reynolds’ Rather Salubrious bolted in by more than two lengths in a dominant showing.

Following Saturday’s three qualifiers, there is only three more slots left for the 2021 BOTB final.

Click here to read more on the Battle of the Bush series. 

Evil Eye Mac