Country Discovery at Sale won by In The Boat

Jockey Blaike McDougall says In The Boat can progress to Group 1 level after his win in the inaugural $500,000 Country Discovery at Sale.

Jockey Blaike McDougall declared In The Boat a Group 1 winner in waiting after the sprinter’s speed blitz in the inaugural $500,000 Country Discovery (1200m) at Sale.

McDougall fired In The Boat ($5 eq fav) out of the barriers to lead clearly after 200m before the Lindsey Smith-trained galloper maintained his pace in the straight to score by 2¾ lengths.

McDougall said Group 1 races at The Valley would be perfect assignments for the four-year-old.

“I think as long as he stays sound and fit, he’ll win a Group 1, especially at The Valley,” McDougall said.

“The sectionals he can run early, and how he allows himself to quicken off it makes him nearly impossible to catch.

“As long as he’s fit and right he’ll win one.”

McDougall conceded he was concerned when he found the track was softer than he expected earlier in the day.

He said he deliberately steered a path off the rail rounding the home turn.

“I was seeing how soft the track was in my first few rides and I lost a bit of confidence,” McDougall said.

“I just tested out the straight and towards the back chute and I found the inside was quite worn.

“I tried to get him on a fresh patch of grass.”

Brooklyn Hustle ($6) did best of the backmarkers, running on for second under jockey Damien Oliver while Sirius Suspect ($31) tracked the winner but was outgunned in the straight, holding third spot.

In The Boat started his career in Smith’s WA stable before the trainer sent the son of Nostradamus east to join his Victorian operation.

The speedster has progressed from first-up defeat in a Benchmark 64 at Swan Hill in the spring to become one of Victoria’s most promising sprinters.

McDougall won on In The Boat at Warrnambool last October but lost the ride until reuniting with the smart galloper for his last run in the Listed Abell Stakes at The Valley.

“I had success on him earlier this preparation and the owners couldn’t put anyone else on him today.

“A quick shout out to (part-owners) Deane Lester, Gerry Ryan and the connections.

“I’m very grateful.”

Originally published as Jockey Blaike McDougall drives In The Boat to easy Country Discovery win