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  • Provincial Racing NSW


A talented young sprinter who returned as a gelding, a mare who “specializes” in winning at the same track on Anzac Day, an unraced $1250 online buy who had fetched a heck of a lot more as a yearling, and a very welcome change of luck on the track for a brave trainer.

Contrasting stories all and at three different TAB meetings - but they added up to a provincial foursome (three for Hawkesbury and one for Newcastle).

Hawkesbury trainers Brad Widdup, Marc Chevalier, and James Ponsonby all were winners, and so was Newcastle’s Sam Kavanagh.

Widdup won his 48th race in 2023-24 when heavily-backed Jedibeel ($1.70 favorite) scored on the Kensington track, Marc Chevalier his seventh when Black Alexandra ($26) made it two from two at Gosford on Anzac Day, Drunken Sailor ($8.50) was James Ponsonby’s 12th of the current racing year when successful at Bathurst, and Magnatear ($5.50) gamely won the Kensington closer for Kavanagh.

Jedibeel’s victory, returning as a gelding in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m), was his fourth from only 10 starts, and his trainer was glad Doncaster Mile winning rider Tyler Schiller was on board.

“Jedibeel has an electric turn of foot, but is inclined to idle off when he hits the front,” Widdup said.

“Thankfully, Tyler was on him today as he has ridden him at his last five starts.

“Jedibeel probably cost himself a couple of wins before, hence the reason we decided to geld him.”

The now four-year-old son of 2004 Cox Plate winner Savabeel and the unraced O’Reilly mare Starry was the only yearling Widdup bought at the 2021 Inglis Classic sale.

He went a bit above his budget to get him for $190,000 on behalf of owner Mike Gregg, who races Jedibeel in the bumble bee colours of his University Cricket Club in Sydney.

“When I bought him, I thought he would run a bit further on his breeding, but he’s purely a sprinter, and a pretty handy one,” Widdup said.

“He’ll have to go to Saturday grade now.”

Chevalier was pleasantly surprised Black Chevalier returned to the winning list in the Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1000m), and afterwards joked he might have to race the mare only once a year at Gosford on Anzac Day.

Like Widdup’s Jedibeel, Black Alexandra is a four-year-old (by Denman) and broke through in a Maiden Plate (1100m) at the same meeting 12 months ago.

They have been her only two victories to date.

“Black Alexandra is a bit hard to catch as she was disappointing at her previous start (when last of nine runners over 1200m at Newcastle on March 21),” Chevalier said.

“But obviously she likes Gosford, and Louis Beuzelin gave her a similar great ride to apprentice Julia Presits last year by sneaking along the fence in the straight to score.”

Chevalier trains $32,500 yearling purchase Black Alexandra for Penrith medical practitioner Ulysess Crosson, and hopes to win another race for him at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

He will start another four-year-old mare Everyone’s A Star (Tyler Schiller) in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m), and is confident she will run well in spite of an awkward draw.

“She is used to wide draws, and is great order,” Chevalier said.

Everyone’s A Star won two in a row on the Kensington track before rising sharply in class and finishing an excellent seventh to Wee Nessy in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 13 during The Championships.

Ponsonby “took a punt” when he paid only $1250 online for $8.50 chance Drunken Sailor

(Mathew Cahill), who landed the Maiden Handicap (1400m) at Bathurst at only his second start.

A son of another Cox Plate winner Ocean Park (2012) and the Group 2 NZ Matamata Breeders Stakes winner Lady Royale, Drunker Sailor fetched $220,000 at Book 1 of the 2022 Karaka yearling sale.

But he never raced for a prominent Australian trainer, and Ponsonby bought him through Inglis Digital in January.

“I liked him on type when I had a look at his photo,” Ponsonby said.

“There was mention that he had hurt his near hind fetlock, but the veterinary report said it was a non-event.

“He was definitely worth a punt for a couple of grand, and we didn’t even have to pay that much.

“When he arrived at our place, I wondered if he was missing a leg being such a good style of horse.

“Drunken Sailor is a family horse, and has already paid for himself (first prize was $13,900).”

It proved an all-Hawkesbury affair, with Drunken Sailor leading home Richard Nutman’s Bloomin’ Gold ($7.50), Tommy Wong’s Raven Scout ($11), and Team Vigouroux’s Legris ($6.50).

The three Hawkesbury Anzac Day winner lifted to 139 the number of winners trained out of the track so far this season.

. Magnatear lifted his trainer’s spirits when he held off favorite Wembanyama ($1.85) in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1550m) to end the Kensington meeting.

Sam Kavanagh has been bravely battling a serious health issue, and it was fitting that the gelding should hoist him back into the winning list, ending a frustrating run of eight minor placings.

Magnatear in fact was Kavanagh’s previous winner at home on November 26 when he landed a double; Spirit Of Storm also scoring that day.

The four-year-old had not raced since finishing fourth to Tavi Time in a Provincial-Midway Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Newcastle on March 2.

“He’s a lighter framed horse who doesn’t take a heap of work, so we elected not to trial him in between,” Kavanagh said.

“I think he will get out to 2000m this winter.”

On his own situation, Kavanagh said: “We’re fighting a war, but winning the battle.”

Story John Curtis, April 26, 2024

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