Matthew McGuren rode Matthew Dunn's Gracie Bell to second at the Country Championships qualifying heat moved from Coffs Harbour to Grafton's Clarence River Jockey Club on February 20, before going on the win the final on April 4.
Matthew McGuren rode Matthew Dunn's Gracie Bell to second at the Country Championships qualifying heat moved from Coffs Harbour to Grafton's Clarence River Jockey Club on February 20, before going on the win the final on April 4.

Dominant duo leading the pack as Northern Rivers racing rolls on

RACING: Northern Rivers Racing Association premiership leaders Matt Dunn and Grafton jockey Matt McGuren dominate today’s seven-race TAB meeting at Coffs Harbour.

Both lead their respective premierships by large margins and are coming off big days at Ballina last week where McGuren claimed a double, but Dunn went one better with a treble.

McGuren rode two of those winners and also finished second on another Dunn-trained horse in what was a quinella for the Murwillumbah trainer.

Being locked out of Queensland is somewhat a problem for Dunn but it means the NRRA clubs such as Coffs Harbour, can prosper.

He has nine runners at Coffs Harbour today with McGuren on seven of them.

The coronavirus has affected all in the racing industry but the main thing is it is still running whereas most other sports are not.

And despite current events, Dunn achieved one of his greatest results when Gracie Belle won the $400,000 Newhaven Park Stud Country Championship Final on April 4.

It was a good day for the NRRA with the region providing first and third (Warren Gavenlock’s Plonka from Coffs Harbour).

The win was Gracie Belle’s sixth and took her prizemoney above $450,00.

Plonka had no luck but charged home for third, beaten .3 lengths by Gracie Belle and the Tash Burleigh-trained Al Ma Haha.

“Super run,” Warren Gavenlock said of his four-year-old gelding’s third placing.

“Couldn’t be happier with him. Great for the Northern Rivers to run first and third.”

Plonka, a four-year-old son of Epaulette, has won four of his 11 starts and almost $220,000 in prizemoney for his Greenhaven Park Stud owners.

He won the NRRA Qualifier at Grafton (beating Gracie Belle into second) but will have a little break.

“He’s gone out for a spell now and will come back for the Kosziusko,” Gavenlock added.

“There’s got to be a chance in that.”

There had been some thought of continuing on for the 1400m Tamworth Cup but that might have been a bit too much for the lightly raced gelding, with a five-hour trip thrown into the deal.

Gavenlock is also looking forward to racing on home turf today, with one runner and four triallers.

Gunnabe Grand, a four-year-old daughter of Pierro, will start at Coffs.

She is also owned by the same connections as Plonka.

“It’s time for her to aim up,” Warren Gavenlock said.

“We’ve made a gear change, put the blinkers on. She works better than she races, looked like being a good horse early on just hasn’t produced on the track.

“A small field, damp track might suit her.”