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  • Provincial Racing NSW


BUOYED by a Taree double yesterday, Newcastle trainer David Atkins is having another crack at the Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship tomorrow on his home track.

And with a homebred he says is going as well as ever.

Certainly the omens are there for topweight Contributing Factor to run well in the $150,000 Qualifier (1400m) as his younger half-sister Viv was one of Atkins’ two Taree winners.

Additionally, Christian Reith, who rode both Viv and Just Like Lisa to victory at Taree, has the mount on Contributing Factor, who has won three of his six starts at Newcastle.

The four-year-old is raced by Atkins and Newcastle businessman Matt Chidgey, and was bred by the pair.

“We raced his dam, the Foxwedge mare Contributing, on lease, but she had bad front knees and raced only three times in 2017 without being placed and was retired,” Atkins said.

“The owner gave her to us and as she was from a good family, we decided to breed from her.

“I had a free service to The Factor, and Contributing Factor is the mare’s first foal and yesterday’s winner Viv (by Dream Ahead) her second.

“Contributing Factor has been a terrific horse for us, winning five of his 15 starts to date.”

Atkins’ gelding contested two of the Newcastle 1400m lead-ups in last year’s Provincial-Midway Championship series, and considers him unlucky not to have made the $500,000 Final, which will be run this year at Royal Randwick on April 8.

Contributing Factor, a Midway winner at Rosehill Gardens last July, ran fourth to Never Talk in a Qualifier on March 22 before running fifth to Pippali in the Wild Card a fortnight later when he came from near last at the 400m, and was beaten only two lengths.

“He was unlucky not to have won as he was held up for clear running for a decent part of the straight,” Atkins said.

“Tommy Berry rode him and before correct weight was declared, wanted to view the stewards’ patrol film to determine whether there were grounds to protest against the third placegetter (Confessed).”

Contributing Factor has had two unplaced Sydney runs this time in work, and his trainer hasn’t been disappointed with them at all.

“He was beaten less than two lengths at his last run, and the winner Think About It has won twice since, including a Group 3 at his latest start,” Atkins said.

“Contributing Factor has drawn awkwardly tomorrow (14 in a field of 15), but they usually run along in 1400m races here.

“His 59kg topweight of course is a concern, but I have taken blinkers off and if he can have some luck and get a nice run from the draw, I’m sure he will run well.”

Whilst Atkins relies solely on Contributing Factor, several provincial trainers have multiple runners, including Newcastle’s Kris Lees, who has four acceptors; Acquitted (Brenton Avdulla), Kalapour (Tom Sherry), Geo (Nash Rawiller), and Cloudland (Dylan Gibbons).

“At this stage all four are running,” Lees said this morning from the barrier trials being conducted on the Beaumont track.

Lees has won four of the Provincial-Midway Championship Finals – the last two with Cristal Breeze (2021) and Kinloch last year – but so far has missed out qualifying a horse in the first two heats at Kembla Grange and Hawkesbury.

In a very open race, Lees’ pair Acquitted and Geo were disputing favoritism this morning with at $5.50, followed by stablemate Kalapour ($6), and Contributing Factor has firmed from $9.50 to $6.50.

Wyong’s Damien Lane will be represented by Wealthy Investor (Aaron Bullock) and Oakfield Prince (Andrew Adkins), fellow Wyong trainer Tracey Bartley has Sebrenco (Chad Schofield) and Lady Superspy (Mitchell Bell), and Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup runs Stellar Performer (Kerrin McEvoy) and The Halo (Brett Prebble).

Though Stellar Performer ($23, racing in blinkers) and The Halo ($26) are outsiders, Widdup this morning said he could see no reason why both won’t run well.


NSW stewards have given three jockeys permission to ride overweight in tomorrow’s Qualifier.

Nash Rawiller will Geo 1kg over at 57kg, Aaron Bullock the same with Wealthy Investor at 57kg, and Brett Prebble will be 0.5kg over on The Halo at 54.5kg.

The rail is out 3m for the entire circumference for tomorrow’s eight race program, which begins at 1.15pm, and the track has been rated a “Good 4”.

Loch Eagle and Kayobi, the first and second favorites for the April 8 Final, both trialled this morning.

Loch Eagle finished fourth to Compassionate in a 1000m Open heat, whilst Sam Kavanagh’s Kayobi earlier won his 1000m Open trial by two and a half lengths.

*John Curtis

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