Challenge Accepted no certainty for Country Championships

UNDECIDED: Corowa trainer Geoff Duryea hopes Challenge Accepted can deliver the stable more silverware.

UNDECIDED: Corowa trainer Geoff Duryea hopes Challenge Accepted can deliver the stable more silverware.

PROMISING Corowa three-year-old Challenge Accepted is no certain starter in next month’s $100,000 Southern District heat of the Country Championships.

Challenge Accepted highlighted his potential with an eye-catching second placing when first-up at Moonee Valley last Saturday.

It was just his second start after an impressive victory on debut at Albury last September.

The $100,000 heat of the Country Championships will be held at Wagga on February 27 for Southern District horses with no more than five wins and fewer than 21 starts.

Corowa trainer Geoff Duryea revealed Challenge Accepted is no certainty of contesting the Wagga heat.

“Originally I was (going to go to Wagga) but it depends on whether he keeps holding his own in town,” Duryea explained.

“We’ve got a few good options down there in Melbourne if he can, a few $100,000 three-year-old races, but we certainly haven’t ruled (the Championships) out.”

Challenge Accepted is likely to head to a three-year-old race over 1400m at Flemington next month, and his performance there will ultimately decide which direction he heads.

“We’re considering the Country Championships, it’s certainly a massive apple in front of you,” Duryea said.

“At this stage he’s a 70 per cent chance of going to Wagga, but he’s not locked in.

“It depends how he goes in a couple of weeks when he goes back to town.”

The first two horses home in the $100,000 heat at Wagga then qualify for the $400,000 Country Championships Final at Randwick on April 2.

Challenge Accepted may have only have two starts but is generally considered the leading candidate for the Southern District heat.

Duryea was thrilled with his return at Moonee Valley.

“We’re really happy with him,” he said.

“We know he can run a bit but when you’re going down there to take on those horses you hold your breath a bit.

“He found the line well and did everything we asked him to do.

“He’s got a habit of not stepping real clean, which you can get away with up here but it finds you out when you go down there.

“Hopefully with a few more starts he will lift his game.”

A $70,000 purchase from the 2014 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, Challenge Accepted is raced by a number of first-time owners.

A syndicate of Albury Tigers footballers race the gelding, while Duryea is also in the ownership.

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