Two More Battle Of The Bush Final Spots To Go On The Line

A regional Queensland trainer has described his emotions as “shattered” after his TAB Battle of the Bush hopeful for 2021 was forced to be withdrawn from two different heats through injury.

Such was Rockhampton trainer Stephen Rundle's eagerness to qualify for the $200,000 Final on Tattersall's Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm in June, he nominated his gelding Lieutenant for two different qualifiers this Saturday.

The four-year-old son of Spirit Of Boom was nominated for both the Home Hill and Emerald qualifiers, with Rundle to make a call later in the week which of the two qualifiers he thought was most winnable for his galloper.

That was until Lieutenant suffered an untimely tendon injury and is now likely to be on the sidelines for three months.

Owned by Ian Mitchell at Moranbah, the Rundle stable were hopeful Lieutenant would book his ticket to the Final later this year and be competitive on the big stage.

"It has shattered us to be honest, because the owner was looking forward to it and the horse has been going super," Rundle said.

"It has really stopped us in our tracks, the injury is only minor but we will need to give him three months off.

"We were praying to just give him two or three weeks off for the injury and eventually get him to another Battle of the Bush qualifier and then go to Brisbane, but I do not think it will work out.

"The vet said no to that idea, which is a kick in the guts for us and our stable to be honest."

Lieutenant had won twice and been placed on three other occasions this year before suffering the injury setback.

Rundle, who trains a team of 15 horses out of central Queensland, will turn his attention to the 2022 BOTB with Lieutenant and potentially others from his yard.

Rundle has no concerns about travelling his horses around Queensland, having starters at the Sunshine Coast earlier this year while also being prepared to travel as far north as Home Hill.

"It is a pain in the backside as the horse has been going really well," Rundle said.

"We will have to just have a crack at it next year as we have a few nice horses there who may be able to make it."

Rundle will have four from his stable go around on his home track of Rockhampton this coming Tuesday.

The Battle of the Bush features 16 qualifiers (two per country region) across the state, with the final heats to be staged at Thangool RC on June 12.

In this Saturday's two BOTB qualifiers, a strong field has assembled in Emerald the Raymond Williams-trained Ahwahneechee shooting for his fourth straight win while carrying the top weight.

Bush racing legend Fab's Cowboy, who is already qualified for the BOTB Final after winning the Charters Tower heat, is also heading to Emerald this weekend.

The inaugural Battle of the Bush Final winner, Mason's Chance – trained by Mackay's Olivia Cairns, will be aiming to head back to Brisbane by winning the Home Hill heat.


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