FRESH from a TAB Highway success at Rosehill Gardens at the weekend, Joe Burges will be back on the road again tomorrow.

But this time the young Taree trainer’s trip to Wyong with last-start winner Mr Eighty Eight will be a snack compared to the recent 15-hour round trek he undertook to the Forbes Cup Showcase meeting to shed the gelding’s maiden status.

Having his 14th start (but only his third for Burges), the Tavistock six-year-old easily won a 1600m Maiden Plate at Forbes on July 31 to put behind a frustrating run of 10 minor placings.

Having made the running but given little peace, Mr Eighty Eight comfortably held out his rivals and was strong to the line.

Thirty-six-year-old Burges took two horses to Forbes for the feature Sunday program and also scored with Barry’s Lane later in the program.

He and his wife Emma returned to their Bulahdelah base the next day, completing a hectic three days of travel as Zaru (who gave the trainer the second highway victory of his brief career last Saturday) had raced at Rosehill on the Saturday before the long trip to Forbes got underway later that afternoon.

Whilst Burges admitted he felt “a bit flat for a few days” afterwards, he feels the decision to go bush has worked in more ways than one for Mr Eighty Eight, who is raced by a syndicate headed by former Wyong racecourse and now Taree racecourse curator Scott Olson.

“Mr Eighty Eight has been a finicky eater, but there has been a real change in him since the trip to Forbes,” Burges said.

“Not only did we manage to get his maiden out of the way, but he is eating so much better.

“I’m really happy with the horse, and this time the trip will take only about one and a half hours down the highway.

“We’ll find out tomorrow whether he can beat some of the city horses at Wyong, but he has a nice drop in weight and I’m sure he will acquit himself well again.”

Burges has booked leading apprentice Dylan Gibbons for the Wyong Leading Apprentice Jockey Reece Jones and Tom Sherry Class 1 Handicap (1600m).

Gibbons’ 1.5kg provincial claim ensures Mr Eighty Eight will relish carrying 4.5kg less than the 59kg he successfully humped at Forbes in a set weights Maiden.

It’s not the first time Burges has called on the talented young Newcastle jockey.

“Dylan rode Barry’s Lane (whom Burges owns) to break his maiden over 1450m at Kempsey in June last year,” he said.

Dual acceptor Edge Of Darkness has been withdrawn from Mr Eighty Eight’s Wyong race, reducing the field to seven.

Instead, Newcastle trainer Grant Marshall’s Edge Of Darkness will line up one race earlier in the Wyong Jockeys’ Premiership Winner Jason Collett Class 1 Handicap (1350m), and Kacie Adams has the ride.

Fellow Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini has given a strong lead to lightly-raced Fire And Ice’s prospects in the Wyong’s Next Race Day Sunday August 28 Class 1 Handicap (1000m).

Minervini pulled the Hellbent three-year-old out of the Listed Rosebud (1100m) against his own age at Rosehill last Saturday to focus on the Wyong race, and booked Hugh Bowman.

Fire And Ice, with Bowman up, outclassed his rivals over the Wyong 1000m to easily win a 2YO Maiden there on July 19 toward the end of the last season.

Minervini also has found Bowman for another lightly-raced three-year-old Soobooco in the Lauraine Buchanan Best Mum Ever CG&E Maiden Plate (1000m).

James McDonald rode the Sooboog colt on resumption – and at his first start since tackling the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) on debut on a very heavy Royal Randwick surface in March – when runner-up to the promising Hawkesbury mare Aureus Angel in a Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1000m) at Kembla Grange on August 4.

Soobooco had won trials at Wyong (June 29) and Muswellbrook (July 22) before going to Kembla Grange, and is bound to have taken improvement from that run.

Interestingly, McDonald has taken the mount in Soobooco’s race on Chris Waller’s unraced Maurice four-year-old Narito, who heads the early pre-post market. 

. The rail is 4m out for the entire circumference, and the track this morning was rated a “Soft 5”. The 1350m to 1000m chute, however, is a “Soft 7”. There has been 7mm of rain recorded in the past seven days, but none in the last 24 hours. Racing begins at 12.35pm.


RACE 1 – 12.35pm: WYONG TRAINERS’ PREMIERSHIP WINNER KIM WAUGH MAIDEN: 1 PIEMPURR, 2 Mr Luke, 3 Lady Goodfellow, 4 Bandolero.

RACE 2 – 1.10pm: 2022 TRAINERS’ PREMIERSHIP WINNERS GAI WATERHOUSE & ADRIAN BOTT MAIDEN – 1350m: 1 I AM GERONIMO, 2 Dresden, 3 Nano Star, 4 Makanui.

RACE 3 – 1.50pm: 2022 WYONG JOCKEYS’ PREMIERSHIP WINNER JASON COLLETT CLASS 1 – 1350m: 1 THINK ABOUT IT, 2 Ilzoomya, 3 Flying Witness, 4 Poetic Miss.  

RACE 4 – 2.25pm: 2022 LEADING APPRENTICE JOCKEY REECE JONES AND TOM SHERRY CLASS 1 – 1600m: 1 MR EIGHTY EIGHT, 2 The Replicant, 3 Believe So, 4 Brynner.

RACE 5 – 3.05pm: LAURAINE BUCHANAN BEST MUM EVER CG&E MAIDEN PLATE – 1100m: 1 NARITO, 2 Soobooco, 3 Nolan, 4 Sacred Field.

RACE 6 – 3.40pm: FAREWELL WRC RACING & OPERATIONS MANAGER DEAN GROGAN F&M MAIDEN – 1100m: 1 PANTONARO, 2 Miss Faberge, 3 Crystalane, 4 Perpignan.

RACE 7 – 4.20pm: CARLTON WYONG GOLD CUP FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 2 CONDITIONAL BENCHMARK 68 – 1100m: 1 COOL LAD, 2 Belladeel, 3 Da Nang Star, 4 Bullinachinashop.

RACE 8 – 4.55pm: WYONG’S NEXT RACE DAY SUNDAY AUGUST 28 CLASS 1 – 1000m: 1 FIRE AND ICE, 2 Dijon, 3 Custo, 4 Have Mercy.