Rode to the Country Championships Final
WITH a price of $41 for the win in today's Country Championships Final at Randwick, the bookmakers don't rate Free Standing's chances of getting a good result as highly as his trainer does.
Coffs Harbour trainer Cathleen Rode believes the four year-old is a chance of causing an upset.
"I do seriously think he'll be in the first four," Rode said.
"My only doubt is that we got flooded out here recently and I had three days of no tracks, nothing. We couldn't go to the beach because that was just as bad and they (Racing NSW) wouldn't let me leave the area because he had to stay in his region to be trained."
Free Standing will have Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper winning jockey Blake Shinn aboard when he jumps from the inside gate.
In the Equinao gelding's past two starts in the city, including a Highway Handicap win at Randwick in December, Jay Ford has been the rider but Rode explained circumstances dictated a change in jockeys.
"We had Jay Ford but Blake couldn't make the weight for Pumpkin Pie so we swapped," she said.
Free Standing qualified for today's big race by finishing second behind today's race favourite Perfect Dare in the Northern Rivers qualifier at Grafton.
Rode said her horse was held up for a run approaching the home straight but came home strongly.
Strong finishes in recent starts has given her confidence that Free Standing "really knows where the line is now".
"Once he got the opening (in Grafton) he just took off, he knew where the line was and I think if he hadn't been hindered, Perfect Dare wouldn't have won by that much," she said.
The Cathleen Rode trained gelding is racing in the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick on Saturday at 1.55pm.
Free Standing will be in saddlecloth No.13 and is rated a 40-1 chance by the bookies.