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Image: Steve Hart

Scone trainer Cameron Crockett is confident his two-pronged attack has what it takes to triumph in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Newcastle.

Cameron Crockett heads to Newcastle on Saturday with ex-Godolphin gelding and race favourite Raoul and five-year-old mare Don’Tforgetmonica, both live chances of taking out the 1300m event.

The former ‘Blue Army’ soldier joined Crockett’s stable earlier this year, thanks to his strong association with Kurrinda Bloodstock.

“They (Kurrinda Bloodstock) decided they were going to buy a tried horse and he popped up and fit the bill,” Crockett said.

“He had to have three runs for a country trainer before he was eligible for a Highway.

“This race was always mapped out as his grand final and everything has gone to plan so far.”

Under the guidance of Hugh Bowman, the four-year-old son of Kermadec jumps favourably from barrier three in Saturday’s Highway.

Having already experienced success with Bowman in the past, Crockett is looking forward to teaming back up with the talented hoop.

“He (Bowman) won three straight on a horse of mine a few years ago named Nictock and he also rode a double for me earlier in the year at Mudgee,” Crockett said.

“I’m obviously always happy to have him on. You don’t have to give him any instructions or anything like that, you just put him on and away he goes.

“Ideally, we’d like to be just better than midfield, no worse than midfield but that’s Hughy’s area of expertise not mine. I just have to get the horse fit.”

Crockett also lines up the daughter of Monaco Consul, Don’tforgetmonica in the race.

First-up off an 18-week spell, the five-year-old mare will be looking to build-on from her ultra-consistent and successful form from last preparation.

Having saluted in a Highway Handicap at Rosehill last time in, Crockett is assured this is the best the mare has been presented for a first-up outing.

“In the past, she’s had a few little problems we’ve had to battle when she was resuming and probably didn’t get them sorted until about the second or third run in,” Crockett said.

“We’ve got them under control right from the start this time and I feel like I’ve got her going better than I ever have going into a race first-up.

“Whether or not that is reflected on Saturday, we will have to wait and find out.”

Unlike her stablemate, the mare didn’t receive the same fortune from the barrier draw and instead will have quite the job ahead of her from barrier 17.

“I was obviously disappointed with the draw. I was hoping to draw in and box seat with her good gate speed. I’m just unsure if she has the gate speed to get across from out there and land in the right position,” Crockett said.

“I’ve got to be honest, if you asked me which one of the two is going better, I’d have to say her. She’s going super. But she’s first-up with a terrible draw.

“If the mare had drawn close to the inside, I would have been really confident she’d be winning the race. But drawn out where she is, is a bit tricky.”

With the hype of the Spring Carnival fading, Crockett’s attention has shifted focus, looking ahead toward a busy Autumn racing period, in particular the Country Championships.

In a list of contenders near big enough to build his own race, Crockett is self-assured that he has a few genuine threats in his stable.

“We’ve got a good team of horses for the Country Championships next year,” Crockett said.

“Don’tforgetmonica, Commando Hunt, Mr Hussill, Raoul, their some that we will be definitely targeting toward the Autumn.”

The $500,000 Country Championships Final will be run on April 2, 2022, at Randwick Racecourse.

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