It might have been a huge shock for many to see Hamogany run second in Sunday's Country Championships Qualifier but jockey Clayton Gallagher said he won't be out of place in the $500,000 final.
The Dean Mirfin-trained Hamogany was a $61 outsider at Mudgee but he finished like a freight train and it took a photo to split him and eventual winner Old Harbour ($6).
Bathurst trainer Mirfin said the five-year-old gelding is looking to get out over more ground and Gallagher agreed, but that doesn't mean the Nyngan-based jockey is writing off his chances in the final at Royal Randwick.
"The way the horse races today he's definitely looking for the further distance but I wasn't disappointed in its run today over 1400," Gallagher told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
"He found the line extremely well and I think if he goes to Randwick, the bigger track and a roomier straight, he'd be very competitive."
Hamogany moved into a $51 chance for the final after the strong finish while the Michael Mulholland-trained Old Harbour now sits at $26.
Winner of the Goulburn heat, Art Cadeau, remains the $4.50 overall favourite.
Hamogany will be the third runner Mirfin has taken to the final and the Bathurst trainer described the Country Championships as his Melbourne Cup.
"I start planning for this particular race months in advance and I work out which horses will be the best ones that would be suitable to aim for," Mirfin said.
"I then closely monitor what other trainers have going towards the race, so I can see where I sit with other horses. There's a lot of planning that goes into it.
"I've only got 12 horses in the stable but we've actually had 12 horses contest the heats. We have a high volume of runners for a small stable because we aim for it.
"I love the race, the whole concept. It's a really good thing for country horses to aim towards. I'll keep doing it again next year and I've already started thinking about it."
Tamworth hosts the Hunter North-West qualifier this coming Sunday before the Western Districts heat is run seven days later at Coonamble.
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