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"Family stayer" on track for 2021 Roma Cup

IMG-6820.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans

As a mother of two sons, Kristie Clark-Peoples will often joke that she has three male children.

The Rockhampton-based trainer, who has also prepared gallopers on the Sunshine Coast earlier in her tenure in the industry, has her favourite stayer, Hi Harry, that entrenched in her family that she will refer to him as one of her sons.

The veteran gelding is a family horse for Clark-Peoples – her father, fellow trainer Allan Clark, once looked after him in his stable, with friends and family in the connections of Hi Harry.

Clark-Peoples has been desperate to land their valued family member in the Country Cups Challenge Final – starting the experienced stayer in qualifiers across the state in recent months: Longreach, Yeppoon and Mount Perry.

The team made the six hour drive from Rockhampton to Roma on Friday morning to hopefully finally book their spot for the $105,000 Final at Doomben early next month at Bassett Park in Roma on Saturday afternoon.

“He has always been in the family – so to speak – he is the family horse,” Clark-Peoples said.

“He is really part of the family – we call him “Harry Peoples”.

“He is my third son I say, I have two sons and he is my third.

“He is a very special horse – I was actually going to have a break from training when we moved to Rockhampton but due to the fact of loving this horse and the family love him, I am training him.”

The son of Denmarket has gone close in three separate CCC qualifiers but has battled a foot complaint in recent weeks.

Clark-Peoples’ father – Clark – trained the big gelding until earlier this year but has decided to downsize his stable size as he gets on in age.

The winner of six races from 45 attempts is a regular on the beach in Central Queensland and is well looked after by his current trainer, with connections of the galloper including Julie and Mark Hay, Danny Brandon and Robbie Lynagh, who are based on the Sunshine Coast. 

Roma-Turf-Club-04-facebook.jpg“He is not the easiest horse to train in the fact that he is very quiet and always has his problems,” Clark-Peoples, who only has a few gallopers in work, said.

“He is nearly 17 hands and has had a few issues, he takes a lot of maintenance.

“He really needs a trainer who is hands on and pretty loving to him and gives him what he needs to be right.

“It consumes my life.

“We know he has a lot of ability but he has had a lot of setbacks, when he is right, he can race really honest and consistent.”

Clark-Peoples and her family own the property at Caloundra that Melbourne Cup winning jockey and now dual-licensed trainer-jockey Michelle Payne bases her horses at in Queensland.

While Hi Harry has not greeted the judges first since late 2018, one positive going his way is the booking of Jason Missen as his rider – who has been on a bush Cup winning  run of late.

The Brisbane-based Missen has recently claimed the Longreach, Cloncurry, Isisford and Blackall Cups and is keen to add the 2021 Roma Cup crown to his mantelpiece as well.

“He actually rang for the ride, which is good,” the trainer said of Missen.

“I had not organised the ride because I thought we would win at Mount Perry and not need to  come to Roma but I am glad we have Jason now.”

Hi Harry qualified for the 2018 edition of the Country Cups Challenge Final, finishing well back in the field as Baker Boy – for trainer Brenton Andrew  - claimed the $75,000 feature.

The annual Roma Cup meeting at Bassett Park has been a TAB meeting for the last decade and they will add another SKY Racing date this week. 

The Cup for 2021 will also double as a Country Cups Challenge qualifier over 1640 metres.

As well as a CCC qualifier, a spot in the Country Stampede will also go on the line ahead of the Final of both races at Doomben early next month.

Roma Turf Club co-president Peter Flynn is expecting a big crowd on course at Bassett Park this Saturday afternoon.

“In the last 1990’s we were probably drawing a crowd of about 1,000 to 1,500 people,” Flynn said.

“Over a period of time we decided to make the Cup a little more popular and more of a place to go for people and in a period of 10 years we got the numbers up from 1,500 up to 10,000.

“It was a fairly significant event in 2010 when we got to that number and in the ten or so years since, we have peaked at around 8,000-10,000.

“With COVID, we were down to 2,000 in 2020 and in 2021, we were hoping for around 5,000.”

Hi Harry
Jason Missen Next Racing
Kristie Clark-Peoples Next Racing