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  • Provincial Racing NSW


IT was a “gold medal” performance to savour!

Getting a rising seven-year-old to win his first race after being more than two years off the scene - and at his first Australian start after previously racing in Hong Kong - would do any trainer proud.

As indeed Gosford’s Adam Duggan was when A Silvery Warrior overcame the above to break through on his new home track last Thursday in a CG&E Maiden Plate (1200m).

But whilst he modestly agreed it was probably his finest training performance of a 17-year career, he gave great credit to well-respected former jockey Chris O’Brien for the important role he played in the gelding’s successful local appearance.

“Chris rides a bit of work for me, and handles these ex-Hong Kong horses I have,” Duggan said today.

“He is so experienced and is a big help. He does such a good job.”

A Silvery Warrior, a $150,000 purchase at the 2018 Magic Millions National yearling sale at the Gold Coast, was a promising fourth at his first start at Sha Tin over 1200m on January 10, 2021.

But he finished down the course at his next three starts; the last of them when he beat only one home over the same distance at Happy Valley on April 28 that year.

A Silvery Warrior subsequently found his way back to Oz, and seemingly because of poor performances at those last three runs, spent around 18 months in a paddock on the Central Coast until Duggan brought him back into work three and a half months ago.

“Understandably, he was quite out of shape when I got him,” he explained.

“I had to slowly build him up again, and get his core fitness back.”

Duggan, keen not to overtax A Silvery Warrior given his lengthy absence from racing, gave him two short barrier trials (800m on the Beaumont track on June 5 and 845m at Wyong 15 days later) to get him ready for a resumption after nearly 27 months away from the races.

Newcastle’s brilliant apprentice Dylan Gibbons rode his second winner in less than a week for Duggan – the pair teamed with another former Hong Kong sprinter Diamond Diesel at Royal Randwick last Saturday – when A Silvery Warrior ($5.50) did best to edge out Supreme Command ($6.50) and $2.50 favorite Saroyan, with less than a length separating the first four horses.

Both winners are raced by Hong Kong’s Derek Tam and Australia’s Peter Coffey under their TCR (Tam Coffey Racing) banner, and it’s an association which came out of the blue and continues to blossom.

“I was at our eldest son Jack’s school athletics carnival early last year when I got a phone call from Mark Newnham (successful Sydney trainer who recently transferred to Hong Kong),” Duggan explained.

“I didn’t really know Mark all that well at the time, and I think our mutual good friend, jockey Josh Parr, had put in a nice word to him about me.

“Mark had gained extra stables at Randwick and closed his Warwick Farm base, and asked if I was interested in taking a few horses for good clients as he didn’t have room, and put a couple in work at a time.

“A Silvery Warrior was my 10th winner for Derek and Peter. The only horse of theirs I haven’t yet won with is Petra Stallam, who is also a rising seven-year-old and has raced only twice and ran second at Gosford last month at his first start.

“A Silvery Warrior has pulled up well, and we’ll find another a suitable race for him. I think he will manage up to 1400m.”

Duggan says he looked at half a dozen TCR horses, and the last one he viewed was Diamond Diesel, who he has now won three races with, including last week’s city breakthrough.

“I knew straight away Diamond Diesel was the first one I would put into work,” he said.

“He had suffered a stress fracture to his shoulder at his only start in Hong Kong (seventh over 1200m at Sha Tin on June 13, 2021), but I really liked him.

“The other horse I took of TCR’s was Wonder Brahma. Whilst he hadn’t won either, he had raced 17 times in Hong Kong and been placed three times, and thus was experienced.”

Duggan started the two horses within three days of each other in late July last year, and didn’t take long to make his mark with both – as he did with A Silvery Warrior.

Diamond Diesel won his first two starts at Gosford and Newcastle, and Wonder Brahma was placed at his first two starts for his new trainer at Taree and Port Macquarie, and subsequently won at both those tracks.

A Silvery Warrior’s victory continued another successful season for Duggan, providing him with his 16th winner in 2022-23, only one shy of his benchmark 17 in 2020-21.

A pretty tidy effort indeed considering he never has more than 14 horses in work in a boutique stable!

HOOFNOTE: Mark Newnham rode A Silvery Warrior’s dam Winning Belle when she made a winning debut for Gai Waterhouse in a 2YO Maiden Plate (1200m) at Newcastle on March 29, 2003.

The Zabeel mare lived up to her name by winning five races, the best being the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) on a ‘Heavy 10’ Eagle Farm surface the following year, and was also thrice Group 1 placed, including a gallant second to the mighty Makybe Diva in the Australian Cup (2000m) at level weights at Flemington in 2005.

Sadly, she died on December 30 last year.

*Words John Curtis, July 15, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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