Coffs Harbour trained gelding Full Press scored a dominant win in the Herb Blanchard Haulage Grafton Cup Quality Prelude over 2235m on July 7. Image: Emma Pritchard

Pressing ahead to the Grafton Cup

Emma Pritchard

A dominant on pace performance by Full Press in the Herb Blanchard Haulage Grafton Cup Quality Prelude over 2235m on July 7 has his Coffs Harbour based trainer Brett Dodson dreaming of bigger things during the 2024 Grafton July Racing Carnival.

An astute horseman and a long-time supporter of the popular annual event, Dodson has won an impressive assortment of feature races at the track, but the Grafton Cup is one trophy which continues to remain allusive.

On July 18, all that could change when Full Press heads to the barriers to contest his biggest assignment after qualifying for the feature event following his victory on the weekend.

Unplaced at four previous attempts on a heavy surface, Dodson conceded the track condition, rated a Heavy 8, was a major concern for Full Press prior to the running of the Herb Blanchard Haulage Grafton Cup Quality Prelude.

The six-year-old son of Press Statement had only managed three wins and four minor placings from 20 starts on a Soft surface, and with the track receiving 6mm of rain in the 24 hours leading up to the race, Dodson admitted while he was confident in the horse’s ability, the Heavy 8 rating was weighing on his mind.

Jumping from barrier 10, Full Press was taken straight to the lead by jockey Kyle Wilson-Taylor, who expertly rated the gelding as the field of 13 were strung out behind him.

Approaching the home turn, Full Press continued to kick strongly, careering away to win by more than two lengths on the line from Mindspace, trained by Dodson’s partner Sally Taylor, and Gulf Of Tomini.

While he later joked that he “didn’t know how popular he would be at home” after Full Press defeated Mindspace, Dodson said he was excited and proud to have a contender in the Grafton Cup this year.

“It’s a throw at the stumps,” he said.

“It’s always a tough race to try to win, but why not have a go at it.

“It’s the biggest race in our area (Northern NSW), so it would be huge for me to win it and it’s a race I haven’t won.

“He (Full Press) keeps improving, and it was a strong win today.”

Describing Full Press as a versatile galloper, Dodson said the galloper can come from anywhere when asked if he had a preferred barrier in mind for the upcoming Grafton Cup over 2350m.

“It depends on how the track is rated,” he revealed.

“But it would be nice to draw a gate where he won’t have to do too much work.

“Big dreams have happened before, so let’s hope it happens again next week.”