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Gympie specialist has Country Stampede Final in his sights

b1a874b4-150c-4bd5-a32a-a55042dee7b0.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Gympie specialist Viceman will be banking on his sparkling record at the track helping the veteran gelding get through to the 2021 Country Stampede Final.

The son of Denman just loves the sand of Gympie, going around seven times at the track without being outside the money for three victories and four minor place finishes.

Trained at Warwick by Steven Thomas, Viceman and the former jockey make the trip north to the Gympie Turf Club this Saturday with an aim of booking a position in the  $75,000 Country Stampede Final.

A third-generation trainer, Thomas does most of his gallops at the Warwick track but will do his slow work and education at Allora, about 20 minutes north of Warwick, or on the 500-metre track at his property.

Allora is a tight turning sand track, which Thomas believes is why his eight-year-old gelding thrives at Gympie.

“It is amazing, I do not know why he does, but he loves it at Gympie,” Thomas said.

“In his last start up there, he carried 63.5kgs and jumped from the outside alley – a lot of people said to me that he couldn’t win.

“I told them that he would and he did.

“The weight has never been an issue with him, he likes the track and it just suits him.”

With 10 career victories to his name and over $160,000 in prizemoney won, it has not been an easy road for Viceman.

He was off the racing scene from August 2019 until April the following year after an injury suffered in a float as well as managing feet troubles, which Thomas believes is another reason as to his excellent performances at Gympie.


“He has had feet problems over the years, I think that is why he likes the sand as it takes the jar out of him,” Thomas said.

“He already wears concussion plates, anyhow.”

A former jockey, Thomas has not ridden in races since the middle of the 1990s after battling with his weight in the last few years of his career in the saddle, but he still rides all his own track work.

With just a couple of horses in work, Thomas has been in racing for much of his life, his father Barry trained, as did his grandfather in NSW.

He has had as many as five gallopers at work at one time over the years but just has the two now, with Viceman soon set to be joined by a three-year-old.

With the Country Stampede Final to be run over 1100 metres on George Moore Stakes day in December, Thomas started Viceman over that distance earlier this month at Warwick to ensure the sprinter could see the extra trip out.

“He was probably a gallop short for the 1100 metres and I wanted to see if he could get, he got it well bar the last 50 metres and he was not beaten far,” Thomas, who works as a cleaner at a school during the day and at a meat works at night on top of his stable of horses, said.

“I was happy with that and I will need to keep him ticking over to get him into the Final.”

After winning with 63.5 kgs on his back in Benchmark 60 grade three starts back in September, Viceman gets into Saturday’s Open Handicap over 1030 metres with just 55kgs, to be ridden by experienced hoop Morgan Butler.

Hard Stride, a last start winner – one of 16 career triumphs - will carry top-weight in the Qualifier, handed 63kgs.

The 2021 Gympie Cup, worth $20,000 and run over a mile, will also be run on the non-TAB card this Saturday afternoon.

Just one Country Stampede qualifier will be run across the state this weekend.