Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing

Regal Stage chases fourth country cup in NSW coastal town

 

Regal Stage

 

Words by Rachel Gray

Regal Stage will bring the glamour of cups royalty to another shot at a country title when he heads to Coffs Harbour on August 5. But Waterhouse's co-trainer Adrian Bott said the six-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice will first compete in Brisbane at Doomben Racecourse this Saturday July 24.      

"It’s a nicer ratings race to keep his fitness up to the mark in preparation for the 56th Coffs Harbour Cup (1600m) across the border in coastal NSW," Adrian said.

It comes on the back of the gelding’s third career cup win in Queensland where he thundered past the field of 14 others with local jockey Matthew McGillivray riding at 54.5kg to take the Rockhampton Cup (1600m) on July 10.  

Adrian said he and Gai made the decision to target Regal Stage at the country cups following discussions with the owners, a group that includes Kate Waterhouse and Sydney locals Shiralee and David Lilley.

“The ownership group was keen on attending and targeting those meetings,” Adrian said. “The prize money on offer is fantastic [$150k for the recent Rockhampton Cup matches the upcoming Coffs Harbour Cup].” 

Regal Stage earned his first country cup in Gundagai, located about 160km west of Canberra, with jockey Winona Costin in September last year. There, he took home $48,000 for the Snake Gully Cup (1400m).  Less than a month later, the gelding was trucked up to north-west NSW where he nabbed the $35,250 purse with Winona in the saddle for his second cup win with the Mudgee Cup Showcase (1600m). The great result comes in a career that has netted the robust gelding seven wins from 22 starts, including placings in some of the nation’s top city meets at Randwick and Rosehill. 

Adrian said Regal Stage is getting into the ratings level where he is perfectly placed to compete among the older, more seasoned and experienced country racehorses. 

“He's tough and has done plenty of travelling,” Adrian said. “He’s done the miles, and particularly the trip up to a place like Rockhampton doesn't knock him about. He's pretty relaxed with it all. He’s got a great demeanour and a great appetite for his work and racing. But for a six-year-old he's relatively lightly raced, and I think you need those tough campaigners to be taking on those country cup horses because they've all had plenty of racing.” 

Due to Covid restrictions, the Waterhouse-Bott stable was unable to have a foreman travelling interstate with Regal Stage. The bay gelding is usually stabled in Sydney’s Tulloch Lodge, so they contacted former Gai Waterhouse jockey-turned Queensland-based trainer Chris Munce who has a slew of group one wins behind him, including the 1998 Melbourne Cup aboard Jezabeel and Cox Plate on Savabeel.

Adrian said Chris has always had a fantastic association with the stable and Gai, including riding her Golden Slipper winner Dance Hero to victory in 2004, and Descarado to triumph in the 2010 Caulfield Cup.  The trio are in daily contact with phone calls about how Regal Stage is progressing in his preparations leading into the races.

“Chris understands the horses and the work perfectly, and what's required. So, his team has been excellent in helping us out,” Adrian said.

“We are guided by his eye and feedback as to how he is coping with the work that we've been giving him. We adjust everything accordingly and discuss whether it's been working well. That’s not just with Regal Stage but with a number of our horses.”

Regal Stage (Photo by Michael McInally)

 

Chris said Regal Stage “is going great guns.”

“He’s terrific. He came up to us and settled in straight away and hasn’t turned a hair, basically,” he said.

“He’s just a gentleman. He’s very easy to handle and to do anything with. He’s pretty laid back and very professional and just goes about his business with no fuss.” 

The group of owners are hoping to make the dash up to Coffs Harbour to watch their prized steed compete for his coveted fourth cup.  Disappointingly, Covid restrictions meant they were unable to attend the Rockhampton Cup in July. This year, the Coffs Harbour Racing Club has an attendance limit of about 2500 due to Covid restrictions cutting their usual capacity down by 50 per cent, said Coffs Harbour Racing Club CEO Tim Saladine. Tickets can only be purchased online.

The large indoor areas that usually hold 1200 people can now only fit 300 due to compliance to the one person per four square metres rule, he said.  But there’ll be space in areas such as the Lawn Party which can safely include up to about 600 people. Tim promoted the venue as being only a short five-minute drive from Coffs Harbour Airport. He said the racing club facilities face the track and are located close to the racing surface and parade ring.

“So anyone who's on the track can see firsthand the horses, the jockeys, then actually see the race unfold as well,” he said, adding that the event also retains its authentic country feel.  

“It's just a really good atmosphere around the town and everyone supports the day.”

Fashions on the field will also go ahead in a Covid-safe way, with more information to be made available closer to the August 5 date. Tim said they were looking forward to the glitz and glamour that a Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained horse brings to the race.

“We were over the moon,” he said after finding out Regal Stage would be coming to town.

“Everybody knows who Gai Waterhouse is, and Adrian Bott. To have a trainer of her quality at the Coffs Harbour Cup just adds to the day and it does attract extra people.”

Gai last had one of her runners compete in the Coffs Harbour Cup in 2013, with Kontiki Park crossing the line in ninth place among the field of 14.  Her father, TJ Smith, won the Coffs Harbour Cup twice with Regal Rhythm and Mansingh in the early 1970s.  

 
 

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