Artlee, the runaway winner of the Country Championship final at Royal Randwick, will resume from a short break in the Listed $140,000 Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone’s standalone Saturday meeting on May 16, reports Racing NSW.

His Muswellbrook based trainer, Todd Willan, tuned Artlee up with a gallop against the Rod Northam trained Big Money at Muswellbrook last Friday and the four year old beat Big Money.

The pair was given permission to gallop before the meeting given that they are both on course for major races over the winter and the heavy track was certain to cut up during the day.

“It was good work and I was a little surprised we beat Big Money but my horse has always been a good track worker,” Willan said.

“The Luskin Star will be his biggest test.

“It is not restricted so we will be meeting horses from Sydney’s biggest stables. “After this race he will go to the paddock for a decent spell.



Left: The Country Championships Winner Artlee

“I looked at the Brisbane carnival but I could not find a raced that suited him.”

While Artlee won the gallop by about half a length Northam was not concerned about Big Money being beaten. “He hates wet tracks,” Northam said.

Big Money will start in Saturday’s BTC Cup at Doomben before going to the Doomben 10,000 two weeks later and the Stradbroke two weeks after that.

Northam has shelved his carnival plans for Voodoo Lad and sent him to the paddock.

The horse’s goal was the $400,000 Inglis Guineas on Saturday week however his third to Artlee in the Country Championship final at Randwick took its toll.

“He was a bit scratchy after the race and I gave him some time off but he did not recover as well as I thought he would so he has gone for a break,” Northam said.

Northam will nominate Bulletproof Monk for the Guineas but the horse is will also be nominated for the Scone Country Cup on Friday week with that race the preferred option.

The Country Cup is also on the agenda for the Greg Bennett trained Belannoro after she won the Lone Pine Charge (1000m) at Muswellbrook.

She was coming back from running third over 1350 metres at Doomben three weeks earlier.

“Gee I’m proud of her,” Bennett said.

“She is only little and light but she is tough.”

The Gai Waterhouse trained Pheidon and the Chris Waller trained Rugged Cross are both headed to the Listed $200,000 Emirates Park Scone Cup (1600m) next Friday after finishing first and second over the same distance at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

The race was added to the Warwick Farm program after the Hawkesbury cup meeting was washed out to cater for horses headed to Scone.

That was Pheidon’s first start since finishing last in the Group One Kingston Town at Ascot in December. However his class cannot be doubted.

Last year he won the Group Two Alister Clark (2040m) at Moonee Valley and finished second to Arabian Gold in the Group Two Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick.

He then ran sixth in the Rough Habit at Eagle Farm, was spelled and at his fourth run back won over 2040 metres at Moonee Valley, finished third in the Listed Cup Day Plate at Flemington and second in the Group Three Eclipse at Sandown before going to Ascot.

The imported Rugged Cross ran second to Hooked in the Group Three Cameron Hcp (1500m) at Newcastle in September and at his second start from a spell won over 1400 metres at Randwick before his second behind Pheidon.