Canberra hits the Highway

Nine Canberra horses have been nominated for Saturday’s $75,000 TAB Highway Handicap at Randwick (1400m).

Racing NSW recently restored the eligibility of Canberra-trained horses to compete in Highway races.

However NSW country-trained horses benchmarked above 50 get first preference in the Highways, leaving any remaining spots for Canberra and other gallopers.

With the rail out 10m at Randwick on Saturday, the field limit for the Highway is 13 with four emergencies.

With weights declared, NSW-trained horses fill the 13 guaranteed spots, meaning Canberra trainers will be relying on non-acceptances and/or scratchings to make the field.

The Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones-trained Athonis is balloted 14 and Joe Ible’s, Seeblume and Trevor McIlrick’s Who’s Knocking equal 15th.

Dylan’s Diva (Nick Olive), and Belfast Bella and Rapture Miss (Matt Dale) sit 17th and 18th.

Seeblume resumes and the other Canberra gallopers (above) all come off last start wins.

Athonis resumed on the Canberra Acton on August 10 and impressed winning the “Federal” by 2.8L.

Co-trainer Paul Jones says the former Kiwi is pleasing the stable.

“This is his first full preparation with us and he resumed off a good break which he needed,” Jones said.

“We expected him to win the Federal and there’s improvement to come.     

“Saturday’s Highway is shaping as a strong race but he’s a chance if he draws soft. We like him and believe in a month or so he’s capable of winning in Sydney at mid week level.”