A year after finishing second with After All That, trainer Rod Northam and jockey Robert Thompson have another chance to win the rich Country Championships Final at Randwick with My Tagoson.
My Tagoson, like After All That 12 months ago, earned his spot in Saturday’s $500,000 race via the Wild Card race at Muswellbrook last Sunday.
Saturday’s Country Championships Final (1400m) is the fourth edition and Scone-based Northam has had a runner every year.
Voodoo Lad was third as favourite in the inaugural running in 2015 with James McDonald aboard while After All That snuck into the 2016 race but finished last, again with McDonald aboard.
My Tagoson is no stranger to winning at Randwick, registering two victories from three attempts at the track in Highway handicaps last year.
Saturday’s race has been a long-range target.
“We planned this out five or six months ago and we’ve got him there through the wild card,” Northam said.
“We did the same thing with After All That last year and he ran second in the Final. So we’re hoping for a similar result if we can.”
My Tagoson was eighth, beaten less than two lengths, in the qualifying heat won by Suncraze at Scone two starts ago before again coming from last in the Wild Card to grab second and secure a place in the Final.
“His sectionals were great last start, as they were at Scone the start before,” Northam said.
“Hopefully they run along up front and turn it into a bit like a mile race.
“And if they do then he’ll be hitting the line hard.
“It’s a tough race and there’s lots of chances. There looks to be a few of them that will go forward and if it is a high-pressure race, a few of them might be found wanting at the end and I’m pretty confident my guy will be really strong through the line.”
Thompson has ridden more winners than any other Australian jockey and is an icon of country racing, so it would be fitting if he was able to take out the Final.
“I was rapt that he wanted to stick with the horse and I know it would be super for him to win it,” Northam said.
“There has been a little bit of conjecture that maybe the city jockeys shouldn’t be allowed to ride in the race, but it would be really good if a country jockey could win it.”