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  • Provincial Racing NSW


IT’S quite a difference between an $80,000 race and one of $3 million!

But the prospect of securing a start in the latter is luring Gosford trainer Adam Duggan to Sunday’s second day of the Grafton July carnival with his stable star Diamond Diesel.

Duggan has confirmed his seven-year-old gelding, who is in the best form of his career, as a definite starter in the South Grafton Cup (1610m), which carries eligibility for the $3m The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on November 5.

“That’s why we’re going,” Duggan said on Wednesday morning.

“Otherwise, we would have stayed home for the Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday week, or even go to Queensland for the postponed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.”

Duggan also confirmed he has retained Andrew Adkins for the South Grafton Cup mount.

“Andrew won the Civic Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on Diamond Diesel a fortnight ago, and deserves to ride him again,” Duggan said on Wednesday morning.

“He was first apprenticed at Port Macquarie, and knows the Grafton track well.”

Adkins has ridden 13 winners at Grafton, and was to have partnered last year’s Civic Stakes winner Ucalledit in the 2023 renewal of the South Grafton feature.

However, the former New Zealand gelding had 61.5kg, and leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees instead opted for the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) at Randwick the previous day, which he won with 4kg less when ridden by Dylan Gibbons.

Unlike Adkins, Duggan has been to Grafton on only four occasions, but boasts a pretty tidy record all the same, with two wins and a placing.

He won a Class 1 Handicap (1006m) there will Bill ‘N’ Ted in May 2019, and another Class 1 Handicap (1100m) with Wicked Wench in October the following year.

He also recalls starting Jonny Ge at the 2017 July carnival when the gelding ran third to Queensland sprinter Havasay in a Class 6 Plate (1200m) at the Grafton Cup meeting.

“Jonny Ge had won at home at his previous start, and drew the outside in the Grafton race,” Duggan said.

“Josh Parr won on him at Gosford, and also rode him at Grafton.

“Havasay won the next two Ramornie Handicaps at Grafton.”

Parr didn’t go home empty-handed that day after riding Duggan’s horse. He won the following race, the Grafton Cup, on Supply And Demand.

Duggan is pleased with Diamond Diesel’s progress since his barnstorming Civic victory at Warwick Farm on June 25; his third from his last four starts.

He has started him only once at 1600m when third to Mahagoni and subsequent Group 2 winner Navajo Peak in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap at Randwick in September 2022.

“That was at his first preparation for me since coming back from his only run in Hong Kong the previous year,” Duggan said.

“I guess the 1600m might be some query as to whether he can produce the same turn of foot he has been showing at the end of his recent 1400m wins at Randwick and Warwick Farm.

“Hopefully the South Grafton Cup is run at a good tempo.”

Duggan plans to leave Gosford early on Sunday morning with Diamond Diesel to give him a few hours in a local stable before he contests the Cup.

“He’s been to Hong Kong and back and is a good traveller, so I’m not worried about going to Grafton the same day,” he said.

Diamond Diesel has been given 57kg for the Grafton assignment, with last year’s winner Cepheus again getting the maximum 62kg under the Quality conditions.

Six provincial horses, including Diamond Diesel, have been entered for the South Grafton Cup.

Wyong’s Kim Waugh (Bethencourt and Camaguey) and Allan Kehoe (Dreamdeel) have three of them, and Kris Lees has Rogue Bear and Kordia. All have 54kg, and Dreamdeel is exempt from ballot (16 can run), courtesy of his Wingham Cup (1614m) success at Taree on June 9.

. Prior to Sunday, Duggan has commitments at Randwick on Saturday with Tikiroo (Tyler Schiller) in the 2YO Handicap (1400m) and Made By Khan (apprentice Zac Wadick) in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m).

Made By Khan trialled at Hawkesbury last Monday in preparation for his resumption, and has blinkers off and visors on.

Story John Curtis, July 10, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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