Found At Last and The Flash One were quality horses but 1400m just wasn’t the distance.
Eyesaw seemed primed to have a crack but was dramatically ruled ineligible just days out for the race.
When it comes to the Country Championships, things just haven’t quite worked out for Darren Hyde up to this point.
But heading into Sunday’s $150,000 qualifier, the first in this year’s statewide series, the Dubbo trainer is perfectly placed to earn passage through to the riches of the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick.
Hyde’s four-year-old gelding opened a $6 shot on Thursday but it didn’t take punters long to realise that.
In a blink of an eye firmed into a $4 hope and that was where he remained on Friday afternoon, second on the line of betting behind hot favourite A Martin Placepick ($2.40).
Westlink hasn’t had a start since surging home late to finish third at Wellington on January 13.
Hyde stated that was largely to keep the gelding fresh and out of the heat, and on the eve of the richest race on the Dubbo Turf Club calendar the hometown trainer couldn’t be happier with the build-up.
“There’s been horrendous conditions in NSW and I didn’t want him in those 45 degree days on the hard race tracks,” Hyde said.
“He’s fit and well and his gallop on Tuesday morning was first class. I’ve done all I can for him and now it’s up to him.
“Touch wood, everything has gone to plan. We’ve had the racing gods on our side.”
Things hadn’t exactly gone to plan in years gone by.
We’ve had the racing gods on our side.Darren Hyde
Last year Eyesaw was primed to tackle the rich qualifier but was ruled ineligible to compete after moving to Hyde’s stable just days after the cut-off date.
That meant for the second year he was without a runner in the Western Racing Association qualifier and his best result in the Country Championships remains a fourth-placed finish with Found At Last in 2015.
“Found At Last, he was always a bit suspect at 1400 (metres) and he didn’t even want 1401 because he couldn’t quite get there,” Hyde said.
“The Flash One (in 2015) was a bit the same and he was in front at the 200 and they swamped him but this guy, he’ll have no trouble running the 1400.”
Westlink motored home in a 1400m event at Wellington last time out after getting too deep early on.
That experience, plus the booking of Kosciuszko winning jockey Adam Hyeronimus, points to a strong run on Sunday.
If that does occur, it will complete a target set on Country Championships day at Dubbo last year.
“He had his first start as a two-year-old colt on Championships day here two years ago and was beaten by a lip,” Hyde said.
“Then he won his maiden this time last year and after he won that and went back-to-back and won at Wellington I said we’ll set him for the Championships in 12 months time.
”We’ve had this planned for some time with this bloke. I said to (Sky Racing’s) Andrew Besnley this Sunday is our semi-final and Randwick will be our final.”