CLOSE BOND: Brannickers with track rider Mandy Clenton yesterday. Picture: Darren PatemanSTRIP down the name Brannickers and it becomes very apt for a filly whose career is taking off.
Her owners registered the name Brannickers, but they, race callers and even punters know her as Bra’n’nickers.
The connections took her sire’s name, Darci Brahma, and mum’s name, Nikki’s Bride, and ended up with Bra’n’nickers, or as she is known in the stud book, Brannickers.
“It’s a play on words and the owners were being a bit cheeky, but it’s a clever name,” trainer Kris Lees said.
Say it however you like, the bottom line for Brannickers is that she can run.
The three-year-old filly has won three and been runner-up twice in eight starts.
Tomorrow, Brannickers attempts to win her way into the group 1 Brisbane Oaks when she runs at Rosehill in a 1900 metres handicap.
Brannickers comes to Rosehill after a strong win over 1600m at Gosford.
“The extra distance is no worry,” Lees said.
“She has been looking out for it. The more ground the better for her.”
Lees already has Express Power as the second favourite for the $400,000 Queensland Oaks over 2400m on June 1.
Brannickers, Soapy Star and Masroora could also be in the race.
“She is qualified and now it is a case of whether Brannickers warrants taking to Brisbane,” Lees said.
“If she runs well on Saturday, she might have one more race before Brisbane.”
Lees will also run Nuptse and Urgent Bells in the 1100m handicap for fillies and mares at Rosehill.
“It is a tricky race for both as they are both backmarkers,” Lees said. “But they are both capable of running nice races.”
■ Newcastle stayer Pirate Bay could take the first step towards the group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) when he runs at Rosehill tomorrow.
The imported galloper contests the $100,000 listed Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m).
“If he shows he is ready to step up in class, then the Doomben Cup is not out of the question,” Kris Lees said.
“He could go to the McKell Cup and then go north, or if he shows he has had enough, he will spell. He has been up for a fair while now.”
Pirate Bay, which won three times in France, showed his first glimpse of form in Australia when he stepped up last start to 2000m after two runs over 1600m.
“He is going well, but he would want to be as this is a smart staying field,” Lees said.
■ Promising Newcastle three-year-old Harada Bay starts off tomorrow on a journey that may lead to the Melbourne spring.
Harada Bay, which was runner-up at Warwick Farm and Eagle Farm at his last two races in January, resumes at Rosehill over 1200m.
“He will go to Randwick in a fortnight, but the main aim is to get him to Melbourne this spring,” trainer Trevor Bailey said. “I am looking at a race like the Blamey Stakes over a mile and worth around 350 grand.
“He has returned to training looking bigger and stronger and he is going well on the track.
“He ran home nicely in a trial at Newcastle behind She’s A Stalker.
“That has got him up to the mark for his first up assignment.”
■ Master Newcastle trainer Paul Perry describes Empress Milly as an “honest bugger”.
That is indeed what she is, having been second at all three runs this preparation.
Perry hopes she can get into the winner’s circle in the 1100m handicap at Rosehill tomorrow.
“It is frustrating as she just keeps finding one better,” Perry said of Empress Milly.
“But on Saturday she is drawn well [gate 2] and at the weights she looks to get her chance.”
Perry has Hidden Warrior up in distance in the 1350m handicap.
“He is hard to place with this benchmarking system,” Perry said. “He has ability, and I put him in the Stradbroke just in case he hit a purple patch of form.”
Perry also has stayer Southern Skye in the same race and Kirinata in the last.
“Kirinata kicks off, and it might be the right time for him with all the big guns going north for the winter carnival.”
■ Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michael Rodd is hoping for better fortune when he rides in the listed $200,000 Scone Cup next Friday.
Rodd’s last trip to Scone was a couple of years ago when he was unplaced in the Scone Guineas on Delago Bolt for Gary Portelli.
The Victorian jockey will ride Firebolt in the Scone Cup.
Fellow Melbourne jockey Michael Walker has accepted the ride on Cathay Lady for John Sargent in the cup.
Cathay Lady put together wins at Canterbury (1550m) and Gosford (1600m) last preparation.
Since resuming, the four-year-old mare has been placed third at two of her three runs.
The latest was when placed in the Emancipation Stakes behind Skyerush at Randwick over 1600m on April 27.
Tim Clark will hope to continue his fantastic return to Australian racing in the Scone Cup.
Clark has hit winning form straight away since returning from Hong Kong, taking out the Wagga Cup and the Gold Coast Guineas last week.
He will maintain the ride on Scream Machine, on which he scored in the Wagga Cup.
Scream Machine came from well back to storm home in a deceptive photo in the 2000m Wagga Cup last week.
■ Exciting Newcastle prospect Chewychop will tune up for the $400,000 Scone Guineas (1400m) with a barrier trial on Monday.
Trainer Darren Smith said a good effort in the hitout at Wyong was necessary for Chewychop to go ahead for the Scone Guineas on Saturday, May 18.
“He has got through his win at Warwick Farm in good order,” Smith said. “I feel he needs another good hitout before going to Scone.
“If he goes well in the trial at Wyong, he can have a go at the Scone Guineas.”
Chewychop has had two starts for two wins.
He scored from a wide barrier at Newcastle on January 27 over 1200m.
He resumed and again led all the way when just hanging on to win over 1300m at Warwick Farm on May 1.
■ Newcastle’s old but bold galloper Motspur will try for his third feature sprint win at Scone tomorrow week.
It took a barrier trial win at Newcastle on Monday for Motspur to get a shot at what would be a historic feat.
Motspur is now rising 11 and is aiming at the race, which this year is called the listed Ortensia Sprint (1100m).
Trainer Kris Lees is sticking to a tried and true pattern with Motspur. Before he won the race the past two years he was resuming from a spell.
“The old horse did enough in the trial to say he is ready for another go at the Scone race,” Lees said.
“I am sure he can do well again in a race that he has made his own.”
■ Cessnock trainer Robert “Pud” Davies is keen for Gunnedah rather than Rosehill for his galloper Sandrio. Sandrio is in race five at Rosehill tomorrow and in the Gunnedah Cup on Sunday.
“My preferred option is the Gunnedah Cup,” Davies said.
“I told the owner he would be a bit of a chance at Rosehill, but at Gunnedah he will be real hard to beat. I think I will be getting my way and we will go to the bush rather than town.
“Leanne Henry will ride him in the Gunnedah Cup, and I reckon she rides him better than any other jockey he has had.”