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Star Comes to Town for Millions Clash
Astute Barcaldine trainer Todd Austin is making a rare visit to Cluden Park tomorrow to chase Magic Millions riches with smart sprinter Star Of O’Reilly.
Austin, a champion in western training ranks with more than 800 winners State-wide, will saddle up Star Of O’Reilly in the MM Country Cup Qualifier (1200m).
The six-year-old gelding has won six of his nine starts in North Queensland since Austin and a group of mates bought the horse earlier this year.
Austin last made the trip to Townsville when his top class mare Playtime finished third in the Cleveland Bay Handicap six years ago.
While he has a big opinion of Star Of O’Reilly, he knows he’ll need a super effort to beat the brilliant Only Wanna Sing in the Qualifier.
“I’ve always been in him with a group of mates but because most of them lived in Mackay we had him with Trinity (Bannon) for his first prep,” Austin said,
“I’ve had him for the three starts this time in. Our plan is to aim him at the Battle of the Bush next year but this popped up and we thought we might as well have a go.
“He’s been a bit of fun. I expect him to race well but I’d prefer it if Only Wanna Sing wasn’t there.
“We get a bit of weight off him but we’ve got a bad alley so there’s always pros and cons.”
On the positive side of the ledger Star Of O’Reilly has shown a liking for the Cluden Park circuit with a win and a second from two starts on the track.
He comes into the race off a strong win at Barcaldine over 1200m under 63kg in November and a close second to Rhyme Nor Rhythm in an Open Hcp at Rockhampton over 1200m eight days ago.
Austin has made an important gear change for his Cluden run with the visor coming off and blinkers and nose roll going on to keep the gelding focused.
Stable jockey Ric McMahon, who has one of the best strike rates in the State, has been booked for the ride.
Rockhampton-trained track specialist Only Wanna Sing and Townsville-trained Langhro are both heading into the race in top form.
Only Wanna Sing, unbeaten in four starts on the track, has been freshened for the qualifier since bolting in at Cluden on November 21.
The Jared Wehlow-trained gelding, to be ridden by Ryan Wiggins, is a 13 time winner and will have to lump 65.5kg from the outside barrier in the field of 11.
Langhro made a timely return to form with an all-the-way win over 1400m at Cluden on December 11.
The MM Country Cup Qualifier is the feat race on the seven-race card which kicks off at a later starting time of 2.20pm and winds up with the last at 5.55pm.
An annual feature, the $250,000 Country Cup final will be run at the Gold Coast on January 8.
Pictured: Right on song. Only Wanna Sing winning at Cluden in November. Star Of O’Reilly will be out to bring his winning run to an end in the Magic Millions Country Cup Qualifier.
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