By Chris Scholtz
Goulburn’s Danny Williams took the honours with four winners at Wagga last Friday, but a double for Brett Cavanough was just as significant for the leading Albury trainer.
Cavanough is determined to regain the NSW country training premiership, a title he has won twice, but is facing a challenge after a virus swept through his stable in November, forcing him to halt the training of many of his horses.
A bushfire also ravaged his spelling property near Albury before Christmas, leaving him to regroup and virtually start afresh with his big team.
It is only in the last three weeks that Cavanough has returned to the races with serious numbers. His team has quickly found form with seven winners since January 16, moving him up to fourth on the NSW country premiership with 24 wins.
Mudgee trainer Brett Thompson is setting the pace on 37 wins ahead of Paul Perry (33) and Bjorn Baker (29), but Cavanough is confident he has enough depth in his team to make a charge for the premiership now the stable is back in full swing.
“There was barely a horse in the stable that wasn’t affected by the virus,” Cavanough said.
“We virtually had to stop all their preparations and start again – we didn’t have a starter for almost a month.
“It won’t be easy but I reckon we can make a run at the premiership. I have some really nice young horses coming up that I expect to do well over the next couple of months.”
Cavanough has won the SDRA training premiership 10 times and his Wagga double extended his lead in this season’s local title race to eight wins.
Danny Williams is now seventh on the NSW country premiership with 22 wins after his four winners at Wagga, continuing the great run he has enjoyed since he returned to training at Goulburn, after a stint with the Tony McEvoy stable at Hawkesbury.
Williams doesn’t have the numbers to challenge for the country premiership. Instead he is focused on the $100,000 SERA Country Championship heat at Goulburn this weekend.
He will have as many as four starters and hopes at least one will qualify for the $400,000 final at Randwick on April 2.
Cavanough will make his bid for the Country Championship Final in the SDRA qualifying heat at Wagga on February 27.
The Albury trainer won last year’s qualifier at Wagga with the now retired Loved Up.
Loved UP went on to win the Albury Guineas, finishing sixth in the Country Championship Final at Randwick, and second in the Wagga Town Plate before winning the Scone Guineas, a campaign that saw the filly collect more than $350,000 prize money in four starts.