MAIDEN races worth $40,000 don’t come around every day so when Bathurst trainers Don and Andrew Ryan had the opportunity to participate in one they didn’t pass it up.
The father-son combination are sending Harrietta as their one and only entrant to this Sunday’s Country Championships meeting in Dubbo where she will line up in the Country Maiden Showcase Handicap (1,400 metres).
Andrew Ryan said it was great to see the race conditions give the region’s trainers a chance at some bigger prize money.
“It’s only open to country horses, which is nice because normally a race of that value would be filled up with provincial horses,” he said.
“It’s obviously going to be a very hard race. When you’re putting up $40,000 you can’t just expect them to be giving it out for free.”
Harrietta, a four-year-old mare by Cox Plate winner Savabeel, has made four starts for the Bathurst trainers.
She only began her racing career this season after what’s been a rough journey getting to the track.
“She’s been a bit of a work in progress. It’s taken a while to get her ready to race,” Ryan said.
“She’s a bit of a temperamental mare. We had to spend some time working on her.”
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Harrietta began racing in November and got off to a slow start with eighth and ninth finishes.
She scored her only placing so far, a third on her home track, before recording a trial win at Wellington.
Following a fourth at Cowra she was trialled again, where she finished a narrow third, and comes to Dubbo looking to continue to trend of gradual improvement.
Barrier 14 adds to what’s already a tough task.
“That’s why it’s great having Greg [Ryan] on board but that’s definitely made things more difficult,” Ryan said.
“Maidens can be hard to predict but when they’re at Dubbo you know trainers will come from everywhere to race in them.”
The race contains a diverse collection of country connections with trainers from Bathurst, Forbes, Scone, Mudgee, Nyngan, Gulgong, Wellington, Orange and Gilgandra all represented in the race.
Bathurst’s other hope in the race will be Dean Mirfin’s Electrified.
The three-year-old gelding came close to breaking through for his first win last week when he finished runner-up at Tyers Park.
Andrew Ryan confirmed his stable will not be fielding a runner this year for the Country Championships Central District heat at Mudgee on March 3.
Sunday’s $150,000 Western Country Championships heat will be run at 4.30pm.