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Echuca horse to have tilt at Doomben Cup

Echuca's Eddie Smith and his son Jason will have a runner in tomorrow's Doomben Cup.

GEORDIE COWAN May 16, 2014 3:04am

Part owners Jason (left) and Eddie Smith (right) with former Bamawm Extension resident Nick Thomas. Photo: submitted


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At least a couple of Echuca residents will be cheering on Akzar when it races at the Doomben Cup tomorrow.

Eddie Smith and his son Jason, who now lives in Melbourne, are one of eight part-owners of the seven-year-old horse which has been in scintillating form.

The Irish import won the Warrnambool Cup at its last start and is now set for a raid on the $500,000 Doomben Cup over 2000m in the Queensland Winter Carnival.

The Darren Weir-trained chestnut completed a lap of the Warrnambool course in a clockwise direction on Monday to make sure he was ready to compete in the north.The trainer has another reason to be thankful for Akzar, with his win on May 1 earning Weir a Mercedes for being the last link in the chain of four race wins, including one of the features, during the three-day carnival.

Akzar ran a wide race before accelerating away near the home turn to win by four lengths, continuing what has been a remarkable run since he joined Weir in December.Three wins at Moonee Valley and Flemington were followed by runner-up finishes at Flemington and Caulfield before the Warrnambool Cup ride by Brad Rawiller.

Rawiller has been in the saddle in four of the six races and will again be aboard tomorrow.

With career earnings already not far off the $500,000 mark, the owners are excited for potentially more success, with the Caulfield Cup on their radar.

Trainer Lloyd Williams originally brought the horse from Ireland and sold it to the group of owners about two years ago after winning one race from 12 starts.

The owners first took it to Rob Blacker at Mornington for a year and a half, during which time Azkar secured two wins and five runner-up finishes, but it was ‘‘basically running around the bush doing nothing’’.

They then took it to Weir, who has worked wonders with the gelding.

After housing him at his Ballarat stables, Weir noted Akzar did not look happy and moved him to his beach stable at Warrnambool, where he has thrived and basically only sees the track on race days.

‘‘People just can’t believe the turnaround,’’ Jason said.

‘‘It’s gone from a country horse to group one.’’

After Doomben, Akzar is likely to compete in the Brisbane Cup, before having a spell in the paddock and returning for the spring carnival.

‘‘At the moment he has basically qualified for the Caulfield Cup and, if he wins (tomorrow), will definitely qualify for the Melbourne Cup,’’ Jason said.

‘‘He can run that distance, but the Caulfield Cup is probably more realistic.’’

Weir said he was happy with how Akzar had been performing but refrained from raising hopes too far.

‘‘He got up there (Doomben) okay, but he will have to step up a little bit for it,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s doing well, fit and in form, so hopefully he is a place chance in an even group.

‘‘We won’t be aiming too high.’’

Jason will be in Doomben tomorrow to watch Akzar, while Eddie will be at Caulfield watching another horse he has an interest in.

Mossbeat is one of six horses he acquired in a syndicate of 800 people with Sally Hancock.

Originally from a dairy farm in Bamawm, Eddie and Margaret Smith moved to Echuca about 16 years ago and horses are one of the things which keep him occupied after retiring last year.

Also a pennant bowler of 26 years with City of Echuca and Lockington, Eddie was involved in almost 700 football games throughout his career at Bamawm, Gunbower and Tongala — comprising about 440 as a player and more than 200 as an umpire.

While admitting to some nerves before watching the races, the Smiths said one thing was for certain — never discount the little horse.

‘‘He never leads. Always comes out in midfield or down near the back and sits off the front with cover and then swoops home,’’ Jason said.

‘‘It gives a bit of a thrill, coming up last and then gathers them up and bang,’’ Eddie said.

‘‘He has the fastest sprint of a stayer in Australia at the moment and has run at about 11.27 seconds for the last 200m.’’

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