Port Macquarie preview: Big Dance qualifier looks good for Our Candidate

A lack of class isn’t what will get Our Candidate beat in Friday’s $200,000 Port Macquarie Cup (2000m).

Trainer Kris Lees said earlier in the week that he was keen to race his stayer in the race but was worried about what weight he’d be given.

“He’s freshened up well and is in good order so I think we’ll be going there but we’ll see what weight they give him,” Lees said.

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The eight-year-old gets in well at the weights with just 54kg on his back like most in the field.

His rider Dylan Gibbons knows he’s on the horse that can win it and this will be his second ride in the Port Macquarie Cup which is a Big Dance qualifying race.

“He’s definitely got the class to win this race, there’s no question about that,” Gibbons said.

“He’s well and truly up to that type of race. He’s a Group winner on his day who has got in well at the weights in a Port Macquarie Cup which is a Big Dance qualifier. I’m definitely not worried about the class.”

On a wet track Our Candidate should relish the conditions when Gibbons jumps out of barrier one.

“Those little, lean, light horses skip over the wet ground better and he’s a little mean, lean machine so I’m not concerned with the track,” he said.

“He’s got barrier one and a light weight so he’s got all the favours to help him out on Friday and I’d be shocked if we didn’t get a bold showing from him.”

If he’s to win, the veteran will need to beat odds-on favourite Quality Time who bolted in last start in Sydney for trainer Chris Waller.

“The Waller horses will be hard to beat,” Gibbons said.

In the Hastings Cup (1550m) a race earlier, Gibbons rides Galaxy Belle for Lees.

She’s coming into the $50,000 race first-up off two barrier trials to get ready and she’s a daughter of Redwood so racing over this distance fresh shouldn’t pose a problem.

She will also like getting her toe into the ground so is well placed by the leading trainer.

“A part from the stablemate (Kedah), she looks like one of the top chances there,” Gibbons said.

The last time Gibbons rode her in a race was when she ran eighth of nine at Gosford last preparation which the young jockey hasn’t forgotten.

“The only thing with her is I find her a bit hit and miss. She’s raced well in stronger races but has also put a couple of ordinary ones in,” Gibbons said.

“She just needs to turn up on the day and if she does, she’s definitely in that race up to her ears.”

The record of Galaxy Belle (19-5:4:2) is pretty good however and she’s run second at this track in the past.

Gibbons could have a decent day out on the Mid North Coast with handy rides like Boomsite, Moonglow Miss and Alibi Dot Com to go with his rides in the two Cup races.


Trainer Rodney Northam gave up when his horse Sharp Shock was well back near last on debut over 900m at Scone two weeks ago.

The punters who took the $1.70 about him would’ve felt sick but their condition quickly improved when he let down to sweep past 11 rivals to just get up.

“I had written him off,” Northam said.

“It was pleasing to see the way he ran through the line. The 900m was my worry. If he did anything wrong, he was going to find it hard to pick up and win but he did.”

Sharp Shock runs for the second time in his career at Port Macquarie in a Class 1 Handicap (1200m) and his trainer was trying not to talk him up too much.

“He goes all right,” Northam said.

“He’s only won a maiden by a nose so I don’t want to get too carried away.

“The 1200m should be a lot better on Friday as will a better track. Reece Jones said he wasn’t that comfortable on the heavy going last time.”

Northam wants to see his horse handle a float ride away from home and thinks he knows where his destiny lies.

“He’s got really nice ability and he’s quite a relaxed horse as well and I think his best trip will be at a mile eventually,” Northam said.

“I think he should race well and the trip away will be good for him as well.”

Northam will also race fellow undefeated galloper Jacenza in the third race after he won his first two races to kick off his career.

“He’s been really good,” Northam said.

“At his first-up win he sat outside the lead and really dominated and I was really happy with the way he hit the line when he took as sit last start.

“He had to switch across heels and it was hard to make up ground in the straight at Bathurst that day but I really liked the way he wanted to hit the line.”

Northam thinks Joey’s Chance can be in the finish in the last if things go his way.

“He’s been racing well and has been consistent as always but just needs a bit of luck and he’ll bob up in a race shortly,” he said.

Originally published as Port Macquarie preview: Veteran galloped is well placed on the limit in Port Macquarie Cup

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