Quinn's Plan Comes Off As Star Leads Country Championships Quinella

By Ray Hickson

If Matthew Dunn can do it, why couldn’t Marc Quinn?

The Port Macquarie trainer will be sending both Auzstar and Agirlsbestfriend to Randwick in April after a stable quinella in the $150,000 Newhaven Park Mid North Coast Country Championships (1400m) at Tuncurry.

To add to the symmetry of Matthew Dunn’s quinella at Grafton a week earlier, jockey Matthew McGuren claimed his second Country Championships in that time, having won on Tribeca Star at Grafton, as he guided Auzstar to victory.

It’s been a long range plan from Quinn to get Auzstar to the Country Championships and when the track came up heavy it dented his confidence in both runners but the gelding made every post a winner.

“Aussie’s been a plan for over 12 months, when he first came to me from Warren Gavenlock we had set him for it last year then we found out he wasn’t eligible because he changed jurisdictions too late,’’ Quinn said.

“So that’s why we’ve held him up for the last 12 months. This was his last chance to dance.

“He’s never had wet form, but I just said to Matty bounce him out and ride him how he’s going. To handle a heavy track today’s the best day.”

The training performance is made even more significant given Port Macquarie trainers haven’t had full use of the track due to renovations in the past year.

To quinella the race took Quinn by surprise, given Agirlsbestfriend was at one point a few lengths off the second last horse but she made up an amazing amount of ground down the outside to deny Bantarki the trip to Randwick.

Early in the straight, Quinn was too busy focusing on whether Agirlsbestfriend would get up for second to realise Auzstar had the race in the bag.

“I was watching the filly down the outside and then I looked up and said I think I’ve won it as well,’’ he said.

McGuren was offered the ride in the $1m Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) on April 6 by Quinn straight after the race and the jockey said he’d certainly consider it given he didn’t get the same offer after the Grafton win.

He said it wasn’t necessarily the plan to lead but once the six-year-old put himself there he was more than happy to oblige.

“We had to take the race by the scruff of the neck, he began too well to put him anywhere else in the run,’’ he said.

“They hadn’t been making ground all day. He was too good, he was full of confidence through the run and through the worst parts of the track he was swimming through it.”

Despite running second Agirlsbestfriend, who is not a noted heavy track performer, is ahead of Auzstar in TAB betting on the Final at $15 with the Tuncurry winner a $26 chance.