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  • Provincial Racing NSW


NEWCASTLE trainer David Atkins is confident his talented four-year-old Promitto is ready to recapture his two-year-old form.

Thus he is banking on the gelding putting his best hooves forward at Hawkesbury tomorrow to cement a tilt at the $1m The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange on November 25.

Star Newcastle apprentice Dylan Gibbons returns from his first ever Melbourne Cup ride yesterday to partner Promitto in the $200,000 Listed Lander Toyota Ladies Day Cup (1500m).

Whilst 22-year-old Gibbons hasn’t ridden Promitto in a race, he has been aboard in two trials for placings both times; the first at Muswellbrook in January last year and then at Scone six months later.

Promitto won his first two starts – a 2YO Maiden (900m) at Newcastle on February 12 last year and then the Group 2 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick a fortnight later – but has been winless in nine starts since, although he was placed against older horses at weight-for-age in the Group 3 Craven Plate (1800m) at Randwick 12 months ago.

Promitto was gelded before his previous campaign, and his trainer took winkers off the gelding before he resumed this campaign and has seen enough in his two runs this time in, both over unsuitable distances, and his subsequent work to have faith he can return to his best.

“I’ve been pleased with the two runs at 1200m in Benchmark 88 Handicaps at Randwick,” Atkins said.

“The 1500m at Hawkesbury is going to suit him much better, and I couldn’t be happier with him.

“Promitto is going as good as ever, if not better.

“I’ll be disappointed if he can’t finish Top 3 tomorrow so as to head with him to The Gong at the end of the month.

“Then he will go for a break and come back for the autumn.”

Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller is seeking his fifth victory in the Ladies Day Cup, having been successful with Tromso (2013), Strawberry Boy (2014), Cellarman (2019) and Black On Gold (2020).

He has two runners in the nine-horse field; early favorite Skyman (Kathy O’Hara) and New Mandate (Josh Parr).

Importantly, both horses are already Hawkesbury feature winners.

Skyman won the Listed Rowley Mile last year, and enhanced his prospects of another Hawkesbury triumph with a last start close third to Zeyrek in the Group 3 Craven Plate (1800m) at Randwick on October 28.

New Mandate brilliantly won the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) at the Saturday stand-alone metropolitan meeting in April, but hasn’t reproduced that form in five subsequent starts.

Waller has opted to put blinkers on New Mandate, who has raced three times – two of them in Group 2s - this campaign.

The gelding’s $10m Golden Eagle winning rider Josh Parr is no stranger to feature success at Hawkesbury either, and in fact rode both Tromso and Strawberry Boy for Waller in their Ladies Day Cup victories.

Like Atkins, leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price are also heading toward their home track The Gong with their Ladies Day Cup representative Cuban Royale.

Brock Ryan has ridden the gelding in five of his 10 career wins, and has the mount tomorrow.

. Trainers Brad Widdup and James Ponsonby both won races at Kembla Grange yesterday, lifting the Hawkesbury training base beyond a half century (to 51) this season.

Widdup landed the Maiden Handicap (1200m) with $11 chance Likeabomb (Rory Hutchings), clinching his 16thsuccess of the season.

Ponsonby is also enjoying an excellent start to the season and, with a tally of six, is second to Widdup in terms of the number of winners achieved by Hawkesbury trainers since August 1.

He scored with $2.10 favorite Socrates (apprentice Ben Osmond) in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m).

Socrates, who wouldn’t give in after being strongly challenged in the straight, also won for fellow Newcastle apprentice Dylan Gibbons at Gosford in August.

The rail is in the TRUE position for tomorrow’s seven-race program which begins at 1.35pm.

Course manager Kyle Cassim this morning posted a “Good 4” rating with a penetrometer reading of 5.1

Hawkesbury has received 22.5m of rain in the past seven days, but nil in the last 24 hours.

*Story John Curtis, November 8, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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