Escaping city gives Raqeeb winning edge
By MITCHELL DALE
NOT another useless Sydney nag shipped off to the bush before it goes to the glue factory.
While those weren't Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy's exact thoughts when four-year-old gelding Raqeeb arrived at his stables around six weeks ago, he was hardly excited about his new acquisition.
And, with Raqeeb's unenviable record of 0-0-0 from six starts, you can't blame Bellamy for being sceptical.
But a bit of fresh country air seems to have done the trick for the Dexter gelding.
In five starts since arriving at Clarendon Lodge, Raqeeb has saluted twice and finished second three times.
"When he first came here, I just thought 'Another very slow horse from Sydney'," Bellamy said. "He wasn't performing down there, so he was given a go in the bush.
"But since he got here he has done nothing but improve.
"He's definitely not a city boy."
Bellamy says a shot of confidence has also done the world of good.
"I think it is a confidence thing," he says.
"A horse that is in form and racing with confidence is hard to beat."
Raqeeb will carry plenty of confidence, as well as topweight 56kg, in today's Humes Class 2 Handicap (1609m) at Coffs Harbour Racecourse after an impressive last-start win at Grafton on May 7.
Bellamy says his charge is untried over the distance, but expects him to handle the journey well.
"It is yet to be found out (how he will handle that distance)," Bellamy admitted.
"But I have always thought he would handle the longer distance because of his breeding.
"It will be interesting to see how he goes."
Bellamy will be busy today, with eleven starters in the eight-race program.
He expects four-year-old mare Leica Toy to improve on her average recent form in the wet conditions.
Aside from that, he will be adopting a wait and see approach.
"I've got a lot having their first starts (today)," he said.
"There are four in the fillies and mares and one in the entires and geldings.
"There are a lot of youngsters having their first start, so you never know how they will go."