Trainer almost gave up on this wild Country Champ contender
PAUL Smith has Country Championship hopes for a horse who nearly "broke" him.
The Coffs Harbour trainer celebrated Northern Wilderose's impressive win in the $22,000 J&K Jarvis Racing Pink Silks Benchmark 58 Handicap (1305m) as well as recalling her early days with him.
The four-year-old daughter of Killy, who has now won two of her eight starts for Smith.
"She's so tough but hasn't been the easiest horse to handle. I've never given up on anything when breaking them in but she was nearly the first. She came around though and has got better and better," Smith said.
He is delighted with her and believes there is still "a lot of improvement in her".
"Leah (Kilner) said the same thing.
"She had 60kg, but was very strong at the end and good enough to hold them out.
"I want to push onto the Country Championships with her and she needed to win that today so we'll see what she needs to do to get in."
If she does qualify she could be joined by stablemate Ferniehurst in the February 15 Country Championship Qualifier at Coffs Harbour.
Smith said he too is being aimed at that feature race after running in it last year.
Port Macquarie mare Blinkin Snazzy arrived late to win the $22,000 Key Employment Benchmark 58 Handicap (1605m).
The Tom Higgins-trained daughter of Big Brown snared a third win at her 45th start.
She has also run 14 placings.
Mikayla Weir rode the mare and said she waited until late to make her winning run because the mare "gives up" if she strikes the lead too early.
Pink Silks Raceday - Race 7.
Dark Euro returned to Coffs Harbour to repeat his last start win and indicate a possible Country Championship campaign for his young Grafton trainer.
Fleur Blanch prepares the four-year-old son of Eurozone and loves the gelding who gave her her first winner at Coffs Harbour on October 21.
After moving to Sydney and working for Gai Waterhouse for 12 years she returned to her home town with a good grounding in training horses and broke through for her first win at Coffs before Christmas.
After winning that maiden with Dark Euro she spelled him and gave him a quick freshener.
He was too strong for his opposition.
"I'm tickled pink," Fleur said on Pink Silks Cup day.
"Benn pretty confident about him the last month. Been working the house down and compared to last preparation gone to the next level."
She gave him three weeks off and brought him back into work.
"He's just been really pleasing, toughened up a lot. We might even look at a Country Championship."
She believes he will "get a mile, easily."
She is also delighted with her owners who gave her the gelding.
"He had an accident in a paddock as a colt, I stuck my hand up and he's been a delight ever since."