Belford confident in his Midnight raider

Caption: Brad and Jackie Belford with Midnight Frankie, winner of last month\’s NQ Country Cup in Townsville. Also pictured (left) Kerry Griffin with runner-up Inconsequential and Tony Parker with third placegetter Sprightly Bro. (Photo: Lee Pearce)

 

Qld Country Cup 520m

Winner $10,205

Final February 3

Albion Park

By MIKE HILL

LEADING Townsville trainer Brad Belford is upbeat about his sprinter Midnight Frankie’s chances in this month’s $23,700 Country Cup Final (520m) at Albion Park.

\”He\’ll be hard to beat,\” Belford said a day after the black chaser\’s impressive victory in the Townsville regional final over 498m last month.

\”The best part for me is that he\’s had a couple of runs on the Albion Park track.\”

Belford sent the talented sprinter (Zambora Brockie-Midnight Francis) to the powerful kennels of Mick and Selena Zammit at Willow Vale on the Gold Coast for a couple of weeks late last year.

\”He had one start over 600m and although he finished last he got knocked down in running and then got completely lost,\” the trainer said.

\”He also had two trials over the Brisbane 520m course and he went good in the final trial.\”

Belford admitted he would like to draw an inside box in the final.

\”The dogs wants the fence. He likes the rails,\” he said.

Midnight Frankie, a $4.20 chance, beat the Kerry Griffin-trained early leader Inconsequential ($15) by three-quarters of a length in the NQ regional qualifier, with last year\’s runner-up in the Albion Park final Sprightly Bro ($6) one-and-three-quarter lengths away third.

Sprightly Bro, trained by Henry Parker, again qualified for the Brisbane final as one of the highest graded thirds.

The Country Cup final on February 3 is in its fifth year and carries $10,205 for winning connections. It is part of a huge night of racing that includes the Group 1 $300,000 Gold Bullion (520m), G3 $150,000 Gold Cup (710m) and the $15,700 Qld Short Course (331m).

Belford said he had been confident of success with Midnight Frankie in the Townsville feature.

\”I thought he\’d win and I\’ll have him a bit fitter for the Brisbane final,\” he said.

\”He was a bit fresh last night.\”

It was a huge night for the Gumlow-based trainer, who rugged up five winners, two seconds and three thirds as well as a quinella on the 12-race program.

But Belford knows Midnight Frankie is facing tough opposition from the cream of Queensland country racing, particularly the darling of Rockhampton Love You Peaches.

The Ken Boody-trained sprinter was sensational in winning her regional final over 510m at the Central Queensland track.

Love You Peaches – a $3 equal favourite – pinged the start from box eight and quickly opened up a commanding lead before romping home,  beating kennelmate Zipping Gibson ($8.40) by a whopping nine-and-a-half lengths.

The Peta Boon-prepared Velocity Tamika ($5.60) was another three-quarters of a length away third.

Love You Peaches stopped the clock at a smart 29.69s.

\”She\’s a brilliant bitch, so versatile,\” said Boody, who also had a big night leading in four winners.

\”She\’s so reliable. She begins good and puts herself on the front.\”

Love You Peaches is another finalist that has Albion Park experience.

She won a maiden first-up over the 520m in 30.46s in late 2020 and two starts later clocked a smart 30.19s in winning an Albion Park novice, but since then she has been unplaced in seven runs over the distance.

However, her form since arriving in Central Queensland in July last year has been faultless.

She has strung together 11 wins and six placings from her past 20 starts.

Meanwhile, littermates Easy Eddie, trained by Ron Brook, and the David Plummer-prepared Little Ripper will represent Bundaberg in the big Albion Park final.

Easy Eddie, a $6.50 chance, showed strength to run down Little Ripper ($4.40) in the Wide Bay regional final over 550m.

Easy Eddie made up good ground in running to grab the lead in the straight for a length victory.

However, the run of the race came from the Darren Taylor-trained Barcia Bullet ($4.60). The chaser stormed home from well back to finish only half-a-length away third.

Barcia Bullet, another sprinter with success at Albion Park, also made the final as a highest graded third placegetter.

The Country Cup (520m) final field: Easy Eddie, Little Ripper, Barcia Bullet, Midnight Frankie, Inconsequential, Sprightly Bro, Love You Peaches, Zipping Gibson. Res: Velocity Tamika and Cambla Doll.

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