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By Graham Potter | Friday, April 9, 2021

There are some interesting dynamics coming out of the jockey engagements for the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final at Randwick on Saturday.

Ten riders (62.5 percent) of those who successfully guided their horses through the qualifying stage to gain a place in the Country Championship final have retained their rides for the big day out at Randwick.

These include … Tommy Berry (Art Cadeau), Nick Heywood (Another One), Christian Reith (Pure Fiego), Ben Looker (Activation), John Kissick (Bautista), Clayton Gallagher (Hamogony), Reece Jones (Spiranac), Grant Buckley (Charmmebaby), Jess Taylor (Girls Are Ready) and Matthew Cahill (Wild Rocket).

Berry, of course, is already a long-established member of the top tier of riders in Sydney but, of the others, looking at their statistics for their last fifty rides, all of Heywood, Reith, Looker, Kissick and Gallagher have not been sighted in Sydney at all.

Reece Jones has had seven rides in town over the same period of reference and Taylor has had one ride … but neither have been in action at Randwick during that time.

Five jockeys (31.25 percent), all Sydney-based, will get their first competitive sit on their respective Championship Final contenders in the race, taking over from their counter-parts who played an important part in the qualifiers.

These are Josh Parr (who replaced Jeff Penza on Plonka), Hugh Bowman (who replaced Christian Reith on Rothenburg, Reith stays aboard Pure Fiego), Rachel King (who replaced Mikayla Weir aboard Subtle Grey), James McDonald (who replaced Scott Galloway aboard Baileys) and Tim Clark (who replaced Mikayla Weir aboard Tara Jasmine).

The remaining ride has gone to Samantha Clenton, who steps into the place of Nick Heywood on Healing Hands after Heywood stayed with Another One, who he guided to victory in the qualifier.

Fifteen country-based trainers are due to saddle up the sixteen runners for the Country Championships final. Joe Cleary is the only trainer to have two runners in the race.

Country training bases represented are Albury (Donna Scott), Bathhurst (Dean Mirfin, Gayna Williams), Coffs Harbour (Graham Payne, Warren Gavenlock), Dubbo (Cody Nestor), Grafton (John Shelton), Moruya (Joe Cleary), Narromine (Kylie Kennedy), Port Macquarie (Alan Kehoe), Scone (Cameron Crockett, Rodney Northam), Shoalhaven Heads (Terry Robinson), Taree (Bob Milligan) and Wagga Wagga (Gary Colvin).

The final field for the Country Championships final emerged from these qualifiers:

Northern Rivers: BAILEYS - Graham Payne (first). TARA JASMINE - John Shelton (second).

South East: ART CADEAU - Terry Robinson (first). GIRLS ARE READY – Joe Cleary (fourth - gains a start due to Leg Work (second) coming out and Rothenburg (third) gaining a start through the wildcard).

Southern Districts: ANOTHER ONE - Gary Colvin (first). BAUTISTA - Donna Scott (second).

Mid North Coast: CHARMMEBABY (NZ) - Bob Milligan (first). SUBTLE GREY - Allan Kehoe second).

Central Districts: HAMOGANY - Dean Mirfin (second). HEALING HANDS - Gayna Williams (third - gains a start due to Old Harbour coming out).

Hunter and North West: SPIRANAC - Rodney Northam (first). PURE FUEGO - Cameron Crockett (second).

Western: ACTIVATION - Kody Nestor (first). WILD ROCKET - Kylie Kennedy (second).

Wildcard: PLONKA - Warren Gavenlock (first). ROTHENBURG - Joe Cleary (second).

The Country Championships was launched in 2015. Previous winners are Artlee (2015), Clearly Innocent (2016), Free Standing (2017), Victorem (2018), Noble Boy (2019) and Gracie Belle (2020).

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