The Archer ‘slot’ puzzle pieces now all in place.

Published 19 April 2023

The Archer ‘slot’ puzzle pieces now all in place.

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The much-awaited final composition of the field for Rockhampton richest race, the $775K The Archer (1300m) on April 30 came to light today when the 12 slot holders declared their hands.

The aces in the pack declared at noon were Victorian sprinter Blaze A Trail, trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Randwick sprinter Surf Dancer (IRE).

Gai Waterhouse, the official ambassador for The Archer, has stated publicly she is specifically targeting the race to honour a commitment to the late Rocky Amateurs committeeman Alan Acton.

“I have Surf Dancer going up and it is going to start in Alan (and Jennifer’s) slot. Jennifer (wife) wants to carry on with it so much because she knows how much that race (The Archer) meant to Alan. How much time and energy he put into the Archer was very special”, Gai Waterhouse told The Courier Mail.

In the inaugural The Archer last year, the Acton slot was represented by Waterhouse-Bott trained Dawn Passage which finished third and the partners had been conferring before Alan’s tragic death two weeks ago.

Surf Dancer’s best wins include the GR 2 $250K Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill last September and the South Grafton Cup (1600m) last July 

The winner of six races, including three at 1400m in his home country Ireland, he is yet another starter to go into The Archer off a spell with two good placings in Randwick sprint trials in the last month.

Blaze A Trail is a five times winner from 1200 to 1400 metres and has won at both Rosehill and Caulfield over the former trip. 

The gelding has been primed for a first-up crack at The Archer with two barrier trial placings recently at Warwick Farm, Sydney having not raced since last November.

He will be the first Rockhampton starter for the highly successful and massive two-states Maher and Eustace training enterprise and will represent the Sunshine based Three Amigos Syndicate.

Head amigo, Maroochydore businessman Mark Von Senden said he and fellow amigos Troy Schmidt and Deagon trainer Steele Hall just “couldn’t wait for The Archer to come about”.

“Two of us have horses with Ciaron Maher and when Bill Reid (Rocky Amateurs) told us Ciaron was keen to send a horse up for The Archer we jumped in”, Von Senden said.

“Ciaron told us Blaze A Trail is going super after two Sydney trials and he races well fresh (7 starts – 4 wins and two placings) and he said the horse was not in The Archer just to make up the numbers. I asked him about a likely jockey and he said don’t worry we have someone in mind”, an excited Von Senden concluded. 

The other 10 starters in The Archer are: Maotai (Aquis Farm); Count da Beans (Archer Park); Startantes (Carr’s); Soxagon (KGB); Vega One (Mackemme Racing); Inver Park (GB) (Milne’s); Alpine Edge (Cupid Syndicate); Emerald Kingdom (Bucket List); Namazu (Karla-Peter McPhail) and Wenona Smartone (NZ) (Max Whitby).

Confirmed jockeys to date are Kerrin McEvoy (Maotai); Jimmy Orman (Startantes); Ben Thompson (Vega One); Ryan Maloney (Weona Brave); Andrew Mallyon (Inver Park) and Damien Thornton (Emerald Kingdom).

Racing heads to Callaghan Park, Rockhampton tomorrow (Thursday 20th April)  and Keppel Park, Yeppoon on Saturday.

Tony McMahon.

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