"It’s been the wettest winter I’ve seen," says veteran Dubbo trainer

WEEKEND WITH BERNIE: Bernie's Desert is down to race at Wellington on Sunday. Photo: JANIAN MCMILLAN (www.racingphotography.com.au)

WEEKEND WITH BERNIE: Bernie's Desert is down to race at Wellington on Sunday. Photo: JANIAN MCMILLAN (www.racingphotography.com.au)

Mark Jones has been in the training game longer than a lot in the local region but not even he can remember racing being as interrupted as it has been this winter.

Countless meetings around the western area have been abandoned in recent months due to the ongoing rain, with more than 100mm falling so far at Dubbo in September alone.

Jones only has a handful of horses in work these days but the weather has still taken a toll on the experienced campaigner.

“I haven’t seen this much rain since I’ve been here and that’s going back 20 or 30 years,” he said.

“It’s been the wettest winter I’ve seen and that is good for some people but for race horse trainers it makes things extremely difficult.”

Jones has one hope, Bernie’s Desert, set to race at Wellington on Sunday but that meeting is not guaranteed to go ahead with the section of the track between the 700m and 500m mark currently unsafe for racing after the rain earlier this week.

Another inspection will be needed before it can be given the all clear, but even then Jones is unsure if his horse will handle the heavy track.

Bernie’s Desert won at Dubbo last month on a Heavy 8 but that was followed up by a disappointing last at Bathurst on a Heavy 10.

“My horse just did not like that track one little bit,” Jones said of the Bathurst track.

“So I’ve got a horse that won on a heavy track and come last on a heavy track so it’s hard to say if he likes it or hates it.”

Sunday, should it go ahead, also marks a step up in distance for the four-year-old, who will jump from barrier three with Mathew Cahill in the saddle in the Allendale Merino Stud Class 1 Handicap (1400m).

His win at Dubbo was over 1120m, with only a 1200m second at Cowra the furthest Bernie’s Desert has raced in his five-start career.

“He’s been racing over the 11s (1100m) but we’re stepping him up to 1400m,” Jones said.

“It’s probably not ideal for him, I would have liked 1250 or 1300 but I’ve had some trouble finding what I want at the right time with all these cancellations.”

Racing begins at 1.45pm.

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