A realign of The Archer slots: ‘Gem Song’ & ‘Animate’ join the mix.

Published 25 April 2023

A realign of The Archer slots: ‘Gem Song’ & ‘Animate’ join the mix.

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The field for Sunday’s $775,000 The Archer (1300m) at Callaghan Park has been realigned after the declared slots for Inver Park (GB) and Soxagon have fallen short of the target.

Mark Currie trained Soxagon (slot holder KGB Racing) has been announced retired after an injury flare-up emanating from his run in The Ascot (1000m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday week.

Newcastle’s Kris Lees’ highly acclaimed Inver Park (GB) (Ron and Jill Milne) was confirmed to be ruled out over the weekend after a hoof (foot) issue made him unsuitable for a long float haul.

Instead, Lees has arranged for two substitutes in Gem Song (Milne’s) and Animate (KGB) to chase the coveted bullseye target of $400K first prizemoney in The Archer.

The reshuffle, although unfortunate for the slot holders involved, means that two very prominent jockeys who held no earlier engagements will now mount-up for The Archer.

Multiple Brisbane premiership winning jockey, the seven times GROUP 1 winner Jim Byrne is to ride Animate which was scratched from Doomben races last Saturday.

Byrne will be out to avenge his defeat on second placed Apache Chase in the inaugural The Archer run last May.

Stablemate Gem Song, just 1.1 length away fifth to Emerald Kingdom in the 2022 The Archer and GR 2 placed at Randwick since, is almost certain to be ridden by the Lees stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons, 21.

According to Racing.com the boom apprentice has ridden 283 winners which is a remarkable feat considering he has only been riding for just three years.

Dylan hit the headlines at Randwick over Easter when he won the $1.95M GR 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on Explosive Jack.

Although suspended at the Hawkesbury metropolitan meeting on Saturday where he landed a winner, Dylan is clear to ride Gem Song in Sunday’s The Archer.

Another “young gun” apprentice jockey headed for The Archer is Zac Lloyd, 19 who rode four Sydney city metropolitan winners at Warwick Farm on April 10.

Zac has been engaged for Melbourne based Maher and Eustace trained Blaze A Trail for the slot holder Three Amigos.

He too was suspended at Hawkesbury races last Saturday but that will not come into play until Monday, May 1 leaving Lloyd free to ride in The Archer.

At this stage there has been no confirmation of a rider for the Waterhouse-Bott trained Surf Dancer (IRE) in The Archer but Regan Bayliss has been mentioned in discussions. 

The barrier draw for The Archer will take place at Paradise Lagoons, outside Rockhampton on Wednesday night.

Rocky Amateurs chairman Bill Reid told Russell Leonard on Rocky Turf Talk that the function at which the barrier draw will be conducted was “invitation only”.

“It is very exclusive as we try to make it intimate for the slot holders, committee and three major sponsors”, he explained.

The draw presided over by QRIC stewards will have a novel concept and presentation.

“It involves cattle so what could go wrong Russell”? Reid said with tongue in cheek.

Handicaps, under the Weight-For-Age format have now been released for The Archer whereby only two of the likely 12 starters will not carry 59kg.

They are, the only GR 1 winner in the field the mare Startantes (57kg) and the 3YO Count da Beans (56.5).

On that basis and given Startantes has the equal highest BM rating of 107 with Vega One, she should start a very short priced favourite for next Sunday’s race.

Of the 13 horses handicapped for the co-feature race the $75K The Fitzroy Open (1300m), only the Lees trained Ucalledit (NZ) with 60kg and Jamie McConachy prepared Montenegro Man (54.5kg) are weighed above the 54kg minimum.

Nominations for the other six races on The Archer card closed at 11am Today.

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