Monday’s Western Racing Association Championship Preview at Coonamble was supposed to give punters an idea of who to watch in the looming $150,000 event at Dubbo Turf Club, but it was a horse early in the day who put himself firmly in the frame.
The Justin Stanley-trained Good Host is now every chance of getting a start in the event on March 25 and racing for a ticket to the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick after taking out the IGrain Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1600m) on Monday.
Heading into the event with one win from 13 starts, Good Host was in need of a victory to boost his chances of making the field and he did just that.
With Andrew Banks in the saddle, Good Host ($4.60) trailed King Solomon midway down the straight but pulled clear and went on to win by a length.
“He’s been knocking on the door his last few runs and it was a good run by ‘Banksy’,” Stanley told Sky Thoroughbred Central after the win.
“He got him rolling and he can take a bit of riding but it just worked out nicely today.”
Going into the event with a benchmark rating of 59, Good Host is certain to get a boost and become one of what Stanley hopes is a number of horses from his stable to contest the Western Qualifier.
Good Host got out well from barrier 11, as did Butter Toast ($10), but it was the Michelle Fleming-trained King Solomon ($3.90 favourite) who soon moved into the lead.
The order barely changed as the field moved into the bend for home and while Jake Hull and King Solomon had the inside run, Good Host was perfectly placed outside while Outta Space ($7.50) also began to loom.
It looked set to be a tight finish but Good Host pulled clear while Outta Space ran home well for second, ahead of King Solomon.
“He got to the line very hard (last start at Cowra) so I expected him to run well today and I was confident,” Stanley said, before speaking about the Championships.
“We’ll give him a chance. He’s eligible so we’ll give him a go at the big race. It’s a bit of a drop back in distance but we’ll freshen him up and I think he’ll be right.”
Banks, who suffered some poor health during the past month after being bitten on the head by a spider, finished the meeting with a treble.
He also rode Recital to victory for Dubbo trainer Darren Hyde in the Dunstan Farmers Maiden Plate (1300m) and then finished the day with a second win for Stanley as Party Bag saluted in the Caltex Class 2 Handicap (1200m).