2018 WINNER: Jockey Ben Looker salutes the crowd after cruising across the line in the Country Championships Final aboard Victorem at Royal Randwick.
2018 WINNER: Jockey Ben Looker salutes the crowd after cruising across the line in the Country Championships Final aboard Victorem at Royal Randwick. DAVID MOIR/AAP

We're coming for the crown

HORSE RACING: A pair of Coffs Harbour trainers are quietly confident they have what it takes to win one of the richest races on the Northern Rivers on Sunday.

Jim Jarvis and Brett Dodson both have two geldings heading up to Grafton to compete in the Country Championships Qualifier over 1400m.

The top two horses from the $150,000 race will gain entry into the $500,000 Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick on April 6.

One of Jarvis's runners, Evopex, is the top weight and is expected to figure prominently in running.

"He's drawn good and I have a good rider on him that's had success with him before (Michael Cahill),” Jarvis said.

"If it rains that will enhance our prospects even more because it will stop a few of the others; we can race dry or wet.”

Five-year-old gelding Lawan is Jarvis's other chance.

"He came second to one of Matthew Dunn's horses in a Highway when he came home really strong,” he said.

"He'll probably go back and then really run on from the 700m.”

Jarvis said Dunn's horses are the ones to beat on Sunday, describing the Murwillumbah trainer as "a force to be reckoned with”.

Jarvis was also full of praise for the Coffs Harbour Racing Club in the lead-up to the race.

"They have really gotten behind us and given us unlimited access to the track so we can have the best opportunity to go well.”

Dodson said the weather would determine the game plan for his four-year-old gelding Vacate.

"He's drawn out wide so if it's wet he'll have to go forward. Hopefully he'll be there at the finish if he's ridden a bit conservatively,” he said.

Dodson's other charger, Sawtell, has won twice before over the distance and could be the surprise packet in the field.

"The distance didn't suit in his last starts in the wet, but over 1400m with some luck he might just be a knockout.”



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