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Smith antes up a third time for Country Championships Gamble

3 minute read

Third time lucky is a well worn cliché but it’s exactly what it will be if Lockdown Gamble can finally win the $150,000 Newhaven Park Central Districts Country Championships (1400m) at Mudgee on Sunday.

Trainer David Smith.
Trainer David Smith. Picture: Racing and Sports

The gelding did take trainer David Smith to the Final at Randwick in 2022, having run third at Mudgee and gaining a spot when the first two home were unable to take their place, but his form went missing last year.

The Mudgee trainer was actually going to move on from the Country Championships until a mishap while spelling put his original plan on the backburner – and, to use another old cliché, it may have been a blessing in disguise.

"He didn't have a good preparation and we turned him out to the paddock,'' Smith said.

"Just as we were about to bring him back in he quartered his heel out at the owner's place and it took a fair bit of time to get that right.

"If that didn't happen he'd have been in three or four months earlier and would have raced himself out of eligibility.

"I wouldn't have been too concerned because the way he's come back I think he'll make a nice country cups horse and the mile-1800m is where we will see the best of him.

"The 1400m is definitely not going to be an issue for him come Sunday."

A tilt at a Big Dance eligible Cup is likely in Lockdown Gamble's future but since the Country Championships came back on the radar, especially now there's a $1 million Final, Smith has the sense he has a real chance to win the race.

The six-year-old, $6.50 with TAB on Friday, resumed after running 11th in last year's CDRA Championships with a dominant Cowra win and a placing at Newcastle that told Smith he's on target.

"It was a super effort first-up, he hadn't actually won past the 1300m,'' he said.

"He came awfully close in the Championships two years ago. It was just good to see him come back and do that first-up, to tick that box.

"But I thought his run last start was ultra impressive, I thought it was a lot better than his first-up run.

"I think the horse thought he won the race by panels because he's jumped out of that run full of beans.

"He's only come on from it again which is a little bit scary, I've been trying to hold him together this week."

Smith, who has eight horses in work and 15 overall, has won the CDRA Championships back in with Distinctive Look at Wellington back in 2017 and he says that was the last time he had the same amount of confidence going into a race.

He's found leading rider Aaron Bullock to partner Lockdown Gamble and that just adds to the anticipation, so he hopes things unfold for the horse from a slightly awkward barrier and that the weather behaves itself.

The track was rated soft 6 on Friday and that or better would give Lockdown Gamble no excuses.

"We don't want it too wet because he won't give 110 per cent on a heavy track, he'll hold himself back a little bit,'' Smith said.

"He's right at his peak and I'm tipping well see a peak performance and if he manages to bring that they'll struggle to run him down.

"All the stars are aligning for him so he should be hard to topple."

Racing and Sports

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