RACING: Rising out of the smoke haze
TRAINERS will be hoping for clear skies at Grafton on Sunday with many horses being tested for the first time since the city became engulfed in smoke on an almost daily basis this month.
Grafton-based trainer Dwayne Schmidt has had preparations disrupted by the constant smoke haze, opting to withdraw his entire stable from racing for two weeks.
Miracle Knight and Her Option were the last of Schmidt's 26 horses in work to race prior to the hiatus, when they finished first and second respectively in maiden events at Tabulam on November 9.
"For their welfare we elected not to work or race our horses for a week and a half," Schmidt said. "Just rested them and walked them.
"You know yourself you can't breathe, and down the track it could cause lung troubles, and they can bleed."
True Pride was Schmidt's first runner back in action when fifth at Ballina last Monday. He has three runners installed at Bowraville today before another four at Grafton tomorrow, including consistent mare Anacreon in the Black Trout Construction Group Class 2 Handicap.
"There was nothing on, she had to go around. She's out of her class but probably with no weight on her back she probably comes back into the race as a chance," Schmidt said.
"She's done everything right and I can't fault her.
"But she doesn't seem to like the track at Grafton that much even though she's trained here. She tends to run her best races at Ballina."
After accruing more than $32,675 from minor placings across 24 starts, Anacreon broke through in impressive fashion when she won by almost four lengths at Ballina on October 19.
Schmidt praised Luke Rolls' ride on that occasion. But the same jockey had less success when fifth and fourth in subsequent rides at Grafton.
Tomorrow Les Tilley will be in saddle for the Class 2 event over 1600m - the same distance as Anacreon's maiden win.
"She's run a lot of places to get there, so it's not disappointing," Schmidt said. "She earned a lot of money before she won a race.
"She just needed to be ridden right and she was ridden 101 per cent that day and it paid off.
"She's tried to be ridden too good. By the looks of it she's just got to be ridden a bit rough, got on your bike early and get going."
Mr Piquet trained by Kris Lees on the Gold Coast is the likely race favourite in the midst of an impressive campaign with two wins and three seconds from five outings, including a last start Class 1 win over 1605m at Ballina on November 15.
Barry Ratcliff Kempsey trained Campari Soda is also never far away but is stepping up in distance.