McFarlane's Obvious Choice For Provincial Championships

By Ray Hickson

Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane’s major Provincial Championships contender won’t contest the series this year but he’s hoping It’s So Obvious can confirm plans at Canterbury on Friday night to be his replacement.

Clear The Beach is the horse McFarlane originally had earmarked for the Championships following his excellent winter form but he revealed the gelding has just returned to work and is heading in a different direction.

It’s So Obvious was an impressive Canterbury winner first-up from a spell and she tackles a similar task in the Book Summer Hospitality Today Handicap (1250m) where she’s a warm favourite with TAB at $2.30.

“What she does here will determine what the next step is, I’ve adjusted the program a little bit heading towards the Provincial Championship heats in March,’’ McFarlane (picture left by Bradley Photos) said.

“The ultimate goal this preparation is the Provincial Championships but there’s a lot of return for the owners just out of the Qualifiers.’’

Trainer Greg McFarlane (Pic: Bradley Photos)

 The $150,000 Provincial Championships Qualifiers commence at Wyong on March 3 and McFarlane said the five-year-old could contest that one, and/or heats at Gosford and Newcastle to secure a berth in the $500,000 Final in April.

 “I think the 1350m (at Wyong) and 1400m (at Newcastle) is more up her alley but it’s leading up to those races where we have to get everything right,’’ he said.

 “The Provincial Championships give us a great alternative to the next level. You hope every preparation is their best but I expect good things out of her in this preparation.’’

It’s So Obvious has only had eight starts and she posted her second career win last month at Canterbury in a race where she was able to control her own destiny outside the leader.

She kept a fairly sustained gallop in the last 600m, running 11.85, 11.50 and 11.66 (Punters Intel), and held almost two lengths on Al Mah Haha.

“She’s up in weight but it’s a similar sort of race, probably a week earlier than I would have liked.“She had something to follow so it worked out well,’’ McFarlane said.

“She was justified in winning the race but she is lightly raced and has been lightly worked so there is more improvement and hopefully she will become a solid Saturday horse.’’

As for Clear The Beach, McFarlane said the gelding is in the early stages of his preparation and won’t be stretched out to distances like the 1400m of the Provincial Championships in the short term.

He was spelled after a brave win over Difficult To Get and Akasaki at Rosehill on July 29 which was his third win in nine career starts to date.

“I’m aiming him towards May, June, July and I’ll roll him out then,’’ he said.

“I would have liked to have a go (at the Championships) with him but I will wait until next year. We wanted to give him another preparation first before jumping too deep into going up in distance.’’