Mudgee’s Cameron Crockett is set to target next year’s Central Districts Racing Association Country Championship Qualifier with flying mare Meraki Miss, after the four-year-old roared home to claim Racing Orange’s Allandale Stud Cup on Monday afternoon.
After strong form leading in Meraki Miss was well-backed as a $4 favourite in the $32,000, 1400-metre main event of Monday’s Christmas at Towac meeting, but had to battle her way to lead and force the issue in the dying metres.
After settling on the rails early Crockett’s mare actually looked a chance of being trapped at the top of the straight, but weaved her way to the middle of the Orange track to find a lane.
Once she did she kicked on but many thought it might be too late as, with 200 to go at that stage, then-front-runner Cowboys Karma had pushed out to lead by a tick over two lengths.
He faded though and Crockett’s mare, Andrew Molloy’s Welcome Art ($10) and $151 outsider Next Level, which is trained by Dubbo’s Cindy Monaghan and probably had the most impressive run considering his odds, finished as the trifecta, in that order.
Meraki Miss finished the winner by half-a-length, with Monaghan’s surprise packet another head back in third.
“I didn’t expect her to win like she did. I did think she’d be competitive and run well though, otherwise I wouldn’t have put her in it,” Crockett said, before praising Anthony Cavallo’s ride.
“It was a good ride, he did a good job on her.”
Including a trial Monday this was the mare’s seventh run since an eight-week let-up and also her second win, the other came at Orange too, and Crockett said he’ll freshen her up again before looking toward the 2019 Country Championship.
“I think we will probably freshen her up, then try and start plotting a path into the qualifier at Mudgee,” he said.
The win was Cavallo’s second of Monday’s meeting after he guided Alison Smith’s Supreme Gem to her maiden victory in the first, and he followed it up with a second finish on board her seven-year-old Eyesaw as well.
Eyesaw ($9) ran second behind Mark Milton’s Dynamite Dan ($6.50) in the Nagle Transport Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000 metres), with David Pfieffer’s Hylonome ($2.60 favourite) finishing third.