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Ilfracombe stable of Rodney Little ready for another Brisbane raid

Mon 9 May 2022

By Jordan Gerrans

A regional qualifying race from around Queensland with a Final run in Brisbane would not be the same without Ilfracombe’s Rodney Little and he is on the board at the earliest opportunity in the 2022 Battle of the Bush series.

The experienced bush horseman is a regular in BOTB Final’s – as well as the Country Stampede – and he will be back at Eagle Farm later in the TAB Queensland Racing Carnival after landing gelding Jarhead in the decider.

Little took the son of Warhead down the road to Longreach on Saturday and despite appearing to well out of form from his last four runs, he was too strong for the Open Plate field to claim the BOTB qualifier.

A long well-earned spell, from early September of last year until April of 2022, in the paddock helped land the prize on Saturday, Little thinks.

“He looks a million dollars at the moment,” Little said.

“He needed that break, he has done so well since.”

From the inside alley, top Clermont-based rider Emma Bell was able to guide the six-year-old bay to a three-quarter length victory. 

“It was terrific, I could not get over the way he won it,” Little said.

“I knew he would run a good race but I thought they might be a little nippy over the 1100 metres for him.

“The way he finished off was great, I think he likes the track as there was some give in the ground.

“He was still big on Saturday but nice and fresh for that 1100 metres.”

The BOTB qualifier victory was the first leg of a winning double for the Little and Bell team on Saturday, with the veteran trainer praising the hoop’s efforts, declaring she gets on well with all his gallopers.

Little has prepared three winners from his last three starters.

The Central West barn are regulars in Brisbane, Kakakenny featuring in the 2018 edition of the BOTB Final, while Boingo was in the field last year, before going on to run third in the Country Stampede Final later in the year.

Like almost every area in the Sunshine State, those in Ilfracombe always keep a close eye on the popular BOTB, Little says.

“A lot of people follow us down and have a good time,” he said.

The series kicked-off last weekend across Queensland and will comprise 16 qualifiers, culminating in a Final at Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

Little says his seven-time winner will have a couple of more starts in the bush – pending the rain the area is currently enduring - before making his way to town for the Final.

In the other BOTB qualifier run over the weekend, the Mackay partnership of John Manzelmann and Jade Doolan made their long trip to Mt Isa worth it as Raiden bolted in as the warm favourite.

Raiden ran almost seven lengths behind the winner in the 2021 edition of the BOTB Final after qualifying Gordonvale last year.

Also a regular in town, Raiden finished second in the 2020 Country Stampede decider.

Meanwhile, a Battle of the Bush qualifier race has been added to the Bundaberg Race Club program on Saturday, May 14.

It follows the abandonment of the final four races at the Burrandowan Picnic Race Club race meeting on Saturday, May 7.