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Two more country gallopers book TAB Battle of the Bush final spot

188356540-10160881712002802-7010948040552422481-n.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

The Moranbah stable of Bevan Johnson have doubled their representation in the TAB Battle of the Bush Final while up-and-coming trainer Nick Walsh will also have a starter.

That is the wash-up from Saturday’s heats from around the Sunshine State, the Johnson-trained American Guineas claiming the Home Hill qualifier while Walsh’s Bollente did the job in Emerald.

American Guineas will join bush racing champion Fab’s Cowboy in the $200,000 Final on Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm in June, who is also in the care of country stalwart Johnson.

Townsville-based rider Jeffrey Felix rode American Guineas in the Home Hill qualifier and thinks he will be competitive come the final.

“At the 200m he was flying,” Felix said.

“For sure, I think he is up to that grade in Brisbane.”

The win on American Guineas was one leg of a winning treble for experienced hoop Felix on Saturday afternoon at Home Hill’s Burdekin Race Club.

Johnson has dominated the north Queensland qualifiers so far in 2021, claiming the Charters Towers heat with veteran iron horse Fab’s Cowboy earlier in the year.

Out at Emerald on Saturday, it was a stable newcomer in Bollente who will give young trainer Walsh his opportunity on the big stage of Queensland racing.

Bollente has been as consistent as they come in the bush over the last year for veteran trainer Ray Hermann but was being slugged with massive weights in the western areas of Queensland.

Still owned by Hermann, the five-year-old gelding has recently transferred to Walsh’s stable in Rockhampton and won at his first attempt.

“He is a very nice animal this fella, I have to thank the Hermann family for sending him in and giving him this opportunity in town over the carnival,” Walsh said.

“The 1200 metres is a little bit of a concern for him, I think he is better over 1400m to the mile.

“We will keep him fresh ahead of the Battle of the Bush Final, hopefully we can get the best out of him on that day.”

Top CQ jockey Ash Butler was pleased with the performance of Bollente, now a 14-time winner from 36 starts.

“He is a very good horse, Nick has only had him for two weeks, so he has done really well to get him back to the 1200m and win a race like this,” Butler said.

“Ray has done a really good job with the horse and it is just a pity that he is up in the ratings now and is getting too much weight out in that area.

“He gave me a really good feel, barrier one, it was perfect, he did no work and it was just perfect.”

Walsh only has a small team of horses in Rockhampton but explained that he likes to keep six good ones in his barn at all times.

The Battle of the Bush features 16 qualifiers (two per country region) across the state, with the final heats to be staged at Thangool RC on June 12.

The series heads to Mareeba, Cloncurry and Goondiwindi this coming weekend.

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