Early money on Coffs horse to claim the Country Champs
UPDATE: Hellenism a clear favourite with TAB to win at Coffs Harbour
IT'S free drinks at the bar should a Coffs Harbour-trained horse win the Northern Rivers Racing Association Country Championship Qualifier.
If the early betting punters are on the money then it's going to be a big shout, with TAB customers already betting big on Hellenism to win Tuesday's NRRA Country Championships Qualifier over 1400 metres.
After the barrier draw, the locally-prepared runner out of the Aiden St Vincent barn went up $3.90 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds and was immediately pounced on by punters.
The TAB's Andrew Georgiou said a bet of $1,000 @ $3.90 was the first written for Hellenism, which has drawn barrier 11 for Tuesday's feature.
"Such has been the weight of early money for the daughter of Helmet that she is now into $3.20 and clear top pick in front of Gracie Belle at $7.50 and a pair of horses at $8.50 - One For Betty and Plonka," Georgiou said.
COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER
Coffs Harbour, Tuesday February 18
Hellenism $3.20 favourite (opened $3.90)
Gracie Belle $7.50 (opened $7)
One For Betty $8.50 (opened $8)
Plonka $8.50 (opened $8)
Our Echo $12 (opened $11)
Xanthus $12 (opened $11)
Lose The Snip $14 (opened $13)
Shes Spicy $14 (opened $13)
Winning Brothers $14 (opened $15)
Others from $21
COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL
Winner market, Randwick April 4
Ligulate $9 eq fav
Mahalangur $9 eq fav
Luna Mia $11
Awesome Pluck $15
El Mo $15
Julian Rock $15
News Girl $15
Sneak Preview $15
Others from $26
EARLIER: COFFS Harbour trainer Aiden St Vincent isn't the type to worry about things out of his control and is putting his faith in promising mare Hellenism's talent to get her through an expected wet track in Saturday's opening Country Championships Qualifier at Coffs Harbour.
A winner of three of her five starts, Hellenism is one of the leading local hopes but she's yet to face a rain affected surface.
Coffs Harbour was rated a heavy 10 on Monday and St Vincent is wary of the need to expose her to wet ground in the lead up to the $150,000 NRRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m), that may happen via a light gallop in the next couple of days.
"It's not going to change anything I do with her, it is what it is,'' he said.
"I can't do anything different to get her to the races whether she likes a wet track or not, I've got to focus on what I see every day. I need to have her there the best she can be, wet or dry.
"It'll be a big field and I don't want to fire her up out of the gates, I want her where she is comfortable, I hope she gets an unimpeded run and she can finish off like she can do.''
Hellenism is a $26 chance, and has been the best supported horse among the Coffs Harbour entries, with TAB in all-in markets for the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final at Randwick on April 4 and a top two finish is needed for her to progress.
The four-year-old has won both starts in St Vincent's care, a first-up victory over 1205m at Coffs Harbour at the end of December and a last to first Highway win at Randwick over 1100m on January 25.
The latter was when she really announced herself as a contender.
"I was excited to have her in a race at Randwick to see what she can do when she can get back and run through the line,'' St Vincent said.
"I thought she was capable of doing that, it was a matter of whether she was mature enough for it.
"I think that stamped her as a horse that has ability and will keep improving. It made me be able to focus straight away on getting her to her next run.''
St Vincent, who turned 39 on Monday, has been training at Coffs Harbour for over two years and alluded after Hellenism's win at Randwick he hopes she can become something of a headline horse for his stable.
He likens the mare to his father Paul's former smart sprinter The Jackal and credits his dad for giving him a big opportunity to train when he retired a couple of years ago.
"It becomes your lifestyle and I didn't have aspirations to do anything else when you're hanging around horses all the time,'' he said.
"It was comfortable for me to train but I couldn't do it without the people in my life that make it better.
"I wouldn't want to be training horses if I didn't have the support of family and friends who want to be part of the business. It's too gruelling, it's not an enjoyable life if you're doing it without them around you.
"But it's a lifestyle to me, it's not really a job, so it is enjoyable in that regard.''
There were 33 nominations for the Northern Rivers Qualifier, including 15 from Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn who is chasing his fourth straight win in the race, with a field of 16 and four emergencies declared on Thursday.
Jockey Ben Looker, who won the 2018 Country Championships Final on Victorem, will ride Hellenism on Saturday.
The mare will be one of the least experienced horses in the Qualifier and that's of some concern to her trainer but his opinion of her future says she will have won too many races to be still eligible in 2021.
"I think we are not even close to the bottom of her,'' St Vincent said.
"From being taught by dad to develop horses into racehorses I think if I get the opportunity to keep developing Hellenism there will be way more in store for her.
"It's exciting for me to have a horse with her ability, my job is to make sure I develop her into the type of racehorse she is destined to be.
"Under normal circumstances you'd be disappointed if a horse like her is still eligible next year, it's the time to have a crack at it.
"I don't know whether a horse that has only had five starts and full of potential is the best horse to have in the race. Hopefully her ability can shine through and she can step up when she needs to.''