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Trainer Jenny Graham says Awesome Pluck a long-term project

Trainer Jenny Graham is confident in Awesome Pluck but says the gelding is a work in progress.

JENNY Graham is confident debutant Awesome Pluck “will be a very, very nice horse” in time but has told punters to tread carefully with the first starter at Taree on Thursday.

The two-year-old gelding firmed from $3.50-$3.20 in early TAB betting on the back of two impressive trial efforts where he has charged to the line under a nice hold.

The Port Macquarie trainer is adamant the son of Pluck has a bright future but concedes first-up on a heavy track over 1000m is not the ideal scenario in this $40,000 Maiden Plate.

“I don’t know about the going,” Graham said.

“He has trialled on soft but nothing like it will be. He is a bit raw and has a bit to learn but I do think in time there is quite a bit of improvement in him.

“He is still learning to put his legs down really and overall I think he will be a really nice three-year-old.”

Asked whether punters should be taking the short quote on offer, she was in two minds.

“From a punting point of view I would be a bit cautious because he is still only a baby, he is raw and he has drawn a bit awkward,” she said.

“In saying that, I’m very happy with the horse and I think he will run well if he handles the conditions.”

Graham rated Awesome Pluck alongside Portatorio (Race 7) as her best chance.

She said Portatorio was thriving but she is also concerned about the heavy track considering he has to lump 61kg.

Jenny Graham has urged punters to be cautious about Awesome Pluck.

“I am a little concerned about the track but in saying that I nearly have to go around because I’m just not going to find a dry track,” she said.

“But if he has any sort of luck (and handles the heavy track) I think he will run a big race.”

Portatorio was posted four-wide without cover throughout when finishing midfield in a recent Highway Handicap at Randwick and he charged home to finish second at his two runs prior at Port Macquarie and Taree.

“He hasn’t had a lot of luck lately and he has been racing reasonably well but just not quite getting there,” Graham said.

“It was just one of those circumstances that couldn’t be helped (last start at Randwick) and he did draw awkwardly.

“He is going really well at the moment but it’s just the track is a concern especially carrying that weight.”

Graham’s Taree team rounds out with I Wanna Be A Jeep in Race 8.

The three-year-old was a dominant winner on a dry track at Kempsey last start and then was only defeated 2 ¾ lengths in a Highway race at Rosehill last start despite finishing 10th.

Graham can’t fault the horse but again is concerned about the likely heavy 10 surface.

“I really believe this horse is a firm going horse,” she said.

“I still think he will run well but I do prefer a firmer track for that horse.”

The Taree program is a showcase meeting with each race worth at least $30,000.

NOWRA PREVIEW: Pint-sized Cheat’m full of spirit

CHEAT’M might be the smallest horse Mark Gee has ever taken to the races but what the filly lacks in stature she makes up for in heart.

“She is tiny,” Gee said.

“She would be 14.3 or maybe 15 hands and she has little size-four feet and you would get probably size-five shoes on a yearling at the moment.

“She is very small and she hasn’t got a lot of bone either … but she has a bit of ticker and that’s important.”

The Goulburn trainer conceded he didn’t even expect to make it to the races with the three-year-old filly this winter but she has stepped up when it counts.

“She wasn’t coping that well and we backed off her and thought we will get a trial ticket for her (and then send her for a break),” Gee said.

“But once she trialled like she did and pulled up particularly well we thought we will give her a start and assess it from there.”

The Nowra races should have soemthing for everyone.

Cheat’m finished second in an 800m Goulburn trial last month and backed it up when she beat all bar Call Me Anything at her race debut at Wagga Wagga over 1000m on June 2.

There was a big gap back to third that day and Gee is upbeat she can go one better in the Maiden Handicap (1000m) at Nowra on Thursday.

“There’s a little bit of a question mark on the heavy track,” he said.

“She gives us the impression she will handle it and she is pretty genuine.

“That track she trialled on although it wasn’t heavy it was soft and it was really chewed up that day being towards the end of the day.

“She trialled really well on that so hopefully she will handle it but until you put her on it you can’t be sure.

“Hopefully she gets through the going and will be hard to run down.”

Meanwhile, Gundagai trainer David Blundell has a strong hand in Race 3 with live chances Itsa Fait Accompli and Bolshoi Devoushka.

Both horses have the right form lines for this race.

Best bet: Taree

Race 2 No.4 Lucciola Belle: Looked as if she had won on debut only to be denied by Sojournist in a photo finish. She can hunt up from the inside draw and looks hard to beat at $6.

Next best: Taree

Race 3 No.3 Navua Mist: She was scratched from Cessnock on Tuesday and saved for this and she can park just off potential leader Laurentian if she wants and prove hard to beat. Her city form around In Her Time and Kinsachi last prep bodes very well for this.

Best value: Taree

Race 8 No.3 Tabrodane: Ran a bottler first-up at this track and he would have won if there was any tempo in the race. The extra 100m helps and he is one from one on heavy ground as well. He also won at Canterbury on a soft track earlier in his career. The $8 appeals.

Best exotic: Taree

Quaddie: 1st leg: 2,4. 2nd leg: 1,2,5. 3rd leg: 4,10. 4th leg: 2,3,4,7.

Trainer to follow: Taree

Jenny Graham has three runners — Awesome Pluck (Race 4), Portatorio (Race 7) and I Wanna Be A Jeep (Race 8) and all three should go close.

Best bet: Nowra

Race 2 No.1 Cheat’m: Just found one better at Wagga on debut but she beat third easily and can go one better today.

Next best: Nowra

Race 5 No.2 Fui San: Just tired late when stepping up from 1000m to 1400m second-up but he looks ready to peak third-up and Jeff Penza is prepared to give him another chance.

Jockey to follow: Nowra

Kathy O’Hara has a terrific book of five rides today including Itsa Fait Accompli in Race 3 and Summit Breath in Race 7.