Gosford preview: Trainer Greg McFarlane has speedy Abuela ready to rumble

Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane knows he has a city class horse on his hands in Abuela but his long term targets will be confirmed once she has a couple of runs this preparation.

So far, the lightly-raced five-year-old has won twice with both wins coming over 1200m.

McFarlane feels she can get a little further but she will need to prove that before he locks in a campaign down that path.

“She is a city grade horse, she has performed in town pretty much every time she has gone around there,” McFarlane said.

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“That’s the target with her, it’s just a matter of what distances that will be.

“I have a few races targeted for her as long as she steps up to the mark each time.

“She is looking like she wants 1200m to 1400m which is even better. With her speed it would be nice if she can get over that bit further.

“I have a Plan A and a Plan B for her, it all depends on how she goes over a bit more distance.

“If she ticks the boxes that get her a bit further, she can go down one path but if we don’t think she is quite up to that, then I’ll change tact and go down another path.”

The daughter of Foxwedge resumed from a spell last campaign with a smart all-the-way win in Class 1 over 1200m on her home track on March 11.

She then stepped out in a Benchmark 72 Midway (1100m) at Hawkesbury’s stand-alone meeting on April 22 with a gutsy second behind Moonlight Grace after leading from an outside gate.

Finishing out of the placings that day were recent Four Pillars winners Sweet Mercy, last Saturday’s Midway winner Shadows Of Love and city winner, Miss Kojiki.

“She was unfortunate to have drawn wide that day and had to work hard to get to the front. She acquitted her well though,” McFarlane said.

Abuela has drawn barrier 2 in the Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap over 1000m on her home track but a missed trial last week has McFarlane considering the possibility of waiting until Friday week’s Canterbury night meeting.

“She was supposed to trial last week but they were called off because of the wet weather,” he said.

“If the race was just a fraction longer, 1100m or 1200m, she would definitely go Gosford.

“Everything points to the best still being ahead of her and hopefully she will show that this campaign.”

Abuela opened equal second elect with the unbeaten Stenson Wallman for Tuesday’s race at $3.80 behind another local, Border Control, at $3.30.

McFarlane’s other runner for the day is Geewiz Johnny in the Heat of the Rising Stars Benchmark 64 over 1200m with Dylan Gibbons to ride.

The five-year-old has only won one of his 16 career starts but has nine minor placings to his name and some of them could easily have been wins with just a touch of luck.

“He’s had a lot of close calls that’s for sure but that’s racing. That’s the way it goes,” said McFarlane.

“Hopefully this preparation can be his best one.”

The gelding was a solid third behind Secret Spy when resuming at Gosford before being trapped four-wide at Taree last start.

“The track was playing a bias towards the inside rail quite dramatically that day but I thought he was still entitled to run on a bit better than he did,” he said.

“I expect he will run much better on Tuesday.

Geewiz Johnny opened a $17 chance with the TAB behind Kadall at $2.60.


Appetite For Risk is on the borderline of being a genuine provincial grade horse according to trainer Bryce Heys and he is hoping champion apprentice Zac Lloyd can prove the difference.

Heys has engaged Lloyd to ride the six-year-old in the final race on the card, the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) which is a head of the Rising Star for apprentice jockeys.

Things didn’t go well for the gelding in his latest run on the Beaumont according to Heys when a length and a quarter fourth behind Bakerloo.

“We were a bit disheartened last start. One of the barrier attendants had hold of his head when the gates open which is why he was a bit slow away,” said Heys.

“Because he finished in the first four, he couldn’t be declared a non-runner.”

Prior to that run, the son of Savabeel raced just behind the speed when fourth behind Zouologist before a fifth to Headstock at Kembla when held up turning for home.

“He probably a country level horse that is just teetering on the edge of being provincial level,” he said.

“We get Zac Lloyd on board on Tuesday who can hopefully make the difference.

“He is racing well. Whether or not (Benchmark) 64 grade is a touch too strong for him, we will find out, but because of how well he has done and where this trace sits, we will give him his chance tomorrow.

“The horse is very fit and if he can overcome the barrier, he can run boldly again.”

Heys is looking forward to seeing Against The Law can do when he makes his racetrack return this campaign but barrier 13 of 14 in the Super Maiden (1100m) is not what he was hoping for.

The son of Lean Mean Machine has only had the one start at Randwick back in June when he finished fifth behind brilliant colt Ozzmosis.

“He drew poorly that day as well which is why he was ridden conservatively so he was entitled to get home like he did,” Heys said.

“He has always shown a nice level of ability at home but we want to see him do it on race day.

“I not sure if I will run him or not from the wide draw. I’m hoping for a few scratchings.

“He is ready to go to the races and run well when he does go.”