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A RETURN to the training ranks just before Christmas has Port Macquarie trainer John Sprague itching for success at the Queen of the North feature race in Port Macquarie on Friday. Shelley Beach Road will jump from barrier three just before 5pm hoping to give Sprague his first-ever win at the event. “She likes drawing in close and gets to sit just off the pace,” Sprague said when asked what he made of the barrier draw in the 1200-metre race. “She’s very good on her home track. “She always seems to race a lot better here and it’s against her own fillies and mares and I think she’s primed for it.” It will be the five-year-old bay mare’s 17th start – with the previous 16 yielding five wins, four seconds and two thirds. “She has been around for a while, but she’s been very handy recently,” Sprague said. “The last two starts she’s run second – once in Newcastle and once here in Port just beaten by a freckle – but other than that she’s in fine fiddle.” Sprague said he was hoping to “crack” a win, but also had the added bonus of the country championships in three weeks if it didn’t go to plan. “Her last two starts, she has run second and just beaten, so (it could be) third time lucky; if not there’s always country champs after that,” he said. “There’s not much else we can say, it’s just the luck of the day.” Sprague also has the added pressure of training for a group of local racing identities including race club president Greg Delaforce, chief executive Michael Bowman and Brett Adkins. Adkins is the father of outstanding young rider Andrew Adkins with the young hoop on the road to recovery following a recent heart concern. The 62.5 kilograms impost together with the added weight of these grandstand jockeys will be offset by the claim for promising young apprentice, Reece Jones. Jones has started to really develop following recent victories at Moree, Glen Innes, Gunnedah and last week at Armidale. The usual bus services will be running at suitable times from Gordon Street. The next meeting will be held at Port Macquarie on February 1 featuring the Mid North Coast Championship preview. While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you’re up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.

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