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  • Provincial Racing NSW


FROM Royal Ascot to Royal Hawkesbury!

Co-trainer Jason Attard arrived home from a UK trip in time to saddle tough six-year-old Sovereign Express (Rory Hutchings) for another win on his home track on Tuesday.

Sovereign Express ($3.40 favorite) snatched a last bound victory from fellow Hawkesbury representative, Claire Lever’s Big Boy George ($8.50), in the Irresistible Pools & Spas Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap (1300m).

Attard and wife Lucy Keegan-Attard travelled to the UK to attend both jockey Rachel King’s wedding and visit the latter’s family.

Understandably they took the opportunity to also attend the opening of the famous five-day Royal Ascot carnival last week.

“It was the second time we have been to Royal Ascot; we were there for Black Caviar’s win in 2012,” Jason Attard said on Tuesday evening.

“But this time we were sponsored into the Royal Enclosure when the Victorian mare Asfoora won the King Charles III Stakes. It was a fantastic experience.

“You can’t buy tickets into the enclosure; it’s only a Royal Ascot member who can invite you provided they have known you for at least five years.

“We weren’t too far away from King Charles III. It was all very surreal.

“Lucy has stayed in England for a while longer to spend more time with her family, and we are very appreciative of the work our staff have done to keep the farm ticking over.”

Sovereign Express’ nail-biting win after it looked at one stage in the straight he would score comfortably was Team Attard’s ninth winner this season – and six of them have been on home turf.

For his part, Sovereign Express is proving pretty adept at home as well.

This was his fifth career success, and three of them have come at Hawkesbury.

Put up for sale earlier in the year, Sovereign Express was purchased online in late February for $30,000 and remained in the care of the Attards.

He earned $21,000 today to repay a great deal of that figure, and it shouldn’t be much longer before the “debt” is wiped.

“Sovereign Express ran a super fifth (beaten less than a length) when resuming over 1300m at Warwick Farm earlier in the month, and we were confident he would be hard to beat coming back to provincial grade on his home track,” Jason Attard said.

“Rory (Hutchings) knows him as well as anyone. He has ridden him in all five wins.”

Coincidentally, it was two years to the day since Sovereign Express won his first race – in a 1400m Newcastle Maiden Plate.

“That was the start of a sequence of three wins on the bounce,” Attard said. “He also scored over 1600m at Wyong and 1800m at Hawkesbury.

“Both Rory and myself feel he is best suited t 1600m, and I’m sure he is in for a very nice preparation.”


RacingNSW stewards subsequently came down heavily on Hutchings for excessive use of the whip on Sovereign Express.

Hutchings pleaded guilty to a charge that he used the whip on seven occasions prior to the 100m (including two consecutive strikes just prior to the 100m).

Having regard to the overall totality of whip use in striking his mount on 21 occasions and also having regard to the narrow winning margin, stewards suspended him from Sunday until the following Saturday (July 6), on which day he can ride again.

They also fined him $1000.


Respective Wyong and Gosford trainers Kristen Buchanan and Angela Davies were winners at Tuesday’s Taree meeting.

Buchanan edged to one win from a career 300 when $2.10 favorite Exorealm (Aaron Bullock) won the Maiden Handicap (1007m), and Davies made it two in a row with $4 joint favorite Miss Cartel (Andrew Gibbons), who landed the Class 1 Handicap (1262m).

Story John Curtis, June 26, 2024 - Pics supplied

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