Ford's A Believer In Bandi's Country Championships Claims

By Ray Hickson

Jay Ford has long been a believer that Bandi’s Boy has Country Championships written all over him.

Jay Ford and Bandi's Boy (Pic: Steve Hart).

Bandi’s Boy is widely regarded as Danny Williams’ best chance to win a Newhaven Park Country Championships Final since Don’t Give A Damn ran second in 2018 and Ford has felt the same as far back as when he ran fourth in a Goulburn trial back in September last time.

And he confirmed his credentials winning the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) last weekend as his lead up to Saturday’s grand final.

“From very early Danny has always spruiked this horse to me,’’ Ford said.

“Even my first few sits on him at the trials he really took me as a horse that straight away your first thought was Country Championships.

“He’s come a long way and improved all through his career and the other day he raised the bar again.”

Williams showed his hand with Bandi’s Boy two years ago when he debuted in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes on Day 1 of The Star Championships then he knocked over Zougotcha on a heavy track at his second start.

Injury got in the way after a Highway placing at his third start and Ford linked up with the gelding when he returned 12 months later in that Goulburn trial.

He goes into the $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final as $2.50 favourite with TAB on Wednesday having won four of his last six starts, including the SERA Championships at Moruya where he beat stablemate Atmospheric Rock.

His two defeats came in a Benchmark 78 and the Barn Dance, an open handicap for country horses in November.

“This prep he’s really started to put it all together,’’ Ford said.

“At times he’s lacked a bit of race craft and done a few things wrong but his last two runs he’s really executed well.

“We know he backs up, Danny did a similar things leading into the Moruya qualifier. All things being equal he’s just got to turn up in the best version of himself and he’ll be in the finish.”

He'll have barrier one to deal with on a potentially heavy track but he's ticked that box in the past.

Ford said Bandi’s Boy was trending the right way as a Country Championships horse before he won the Star Kingdom but he concedes the fact he was able to win, beating the likes of Shinzo and Hawaii Five Oh among others, surprised him a little.

“We thought he could run competitively but he was going back in distance and hadn’t run for a month and was meeting some handy horses,’’ he said.

“We were hoping to see him close his race off and have a positive run leading into this week’s run.

“He had a pretty good run, the speed was okay and we rode him where he was comfortable on the back of Shinzo and Hawaii Five Oh so we had the right run. The way he was able to get over those sorts of horses did surprise me a bit.”

Noisy Boy backs up in the Group 1 $2 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m) from his second placing in the Tulloch and Ford said the decision by trainer Todd Howlett to have him ridden conservatively is paying dividends.

Ford said he feels 2400m will be no problem for Noisy Boy, who chased Wymark home in the Tulloch, though a heavy track is an unknown but said on the back of what he did at Rosehill it’s worth a shot at the Derby.

“I won a maiden on him on the Kenso track and he destroyed them, during that preparation we were riding him forward and leading on him,’’ Ford said.

“We threw him in the deep end at the back end of last prep and it just wasn’t working.

“We attacked things a little bit differently and started riding a bit quieter with a view to seeing if he can stay and stretch out in trip. The other day was a really good effort and what we needed to see to warrant going on to the Derby.”

Jay Ford on Democracy Manifest (race 8): “There’s quite a lot of good chances down in the weights this year. He won the well the other and he’s run well in an Epsom and was a bit unlucky. He’s got the right form lines and he’s a good light weight chance.”