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Back of Bourke trainer takes on Randwick

Trainer James Hatch is driving from literally the back of Bourke to Randwick for a chance to have his horse crowned country racing champion.

It’s a three-day trip to the big smoke from Hungerford – a tiny border town 200km north west of Bourke where Hatch runs a cattle and sheep station.

He says he has just enough extra time to “muck around” with two racehorses – Stoneyrise and Nice One Son.

Hatch is the only licensed trainer in Bourke where race meetings are few and far between.

Stoneyrise, who was bought at the Dubbo yearling sales, won his maiden at Bourke in April 2015 – the town’s first meeting in more than a decade.

He has also won four of his past five starts, including the Country Championships qualifier at Dubbo on February 19, which earned him a spot in the 1400m final at Randwick on Saturday.

From a field of 16 plus seven emergencies, Stoneyrise will start from barrier 18 under apprentice jockey Jake Pracey-Holmes.

“This is the stiffest test yet,” Hatch told AAP from Cowra on Wednesday, with another full day of travel ahead of him.

“I’ve just seen the barrier draw. I’ve got the visitors’ draw,.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how the race pans out.”

While Stoneyrise might have racegoers’ sentimental support, punters are backing the Matthew Dunn-trained Perfect Dare.

The four-year-old has been the favourite since he won the Grafton qualifier on February 13 and is at $3.50 while Stoneyrise is sitting on $26.

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