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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KRISTEN Buchanan realized when her new acquisition Epicus flopped at his first start for her that something needed to change.

The former Chris Waller trained gelding beat only three home as a $2.70 favorite in a 3YO Maiden Handicap (1350m) at Wyong on May 11 only a couple of weeks after syndicators Calibre Racing purchased him online for $40,00 in late April.

“Epicus highballed it out in front and fell in a hole that day,” the Wyong trainer said en route home after her three-year-old had clinched a city breakthrough at Canterbury today.

“Calibre Racing is very astute with their purchases, and Epicus arrived in great order and had been beautifully educated.

“Being able to ride work, my focus was to teach him how to race better by relaxing in his gallops and not overrace.

“He has transferred that into his races, and the results are showing.”

They certainly are. At four subsequent starts, Buchanan’s progressive young gelding has won three at Gosford (May 25), Newcastle (June 24) – a close second sandwiched in between at Hawkesbury on June 11 – and today in town.

With apprentice Zac Lloyd aboard, Epicus ($2.40 favorite) graduated to city class by taking the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1550m) under 59kg.

Thus his purchase price has rather quickly turned into returning his new owners only $800 shy of $100,000 in his five starts for Buchanan.

“Epicus is the first horse I have trained for Calibre Racing, and I’m thankful to them and very lucky to have him,” she said.

“He is a lovely horse and today being only his ninth career start, I’m sure there is more improvement in him.

“Today was a bit of a test going to the 1550m, and he handled it well.”

Buchanan also accepted with the gelding for today’s $80,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m), but opted for the Canterbury midweek even though first prize was $13,000 less.

“It was about protecting his Benchmark rating,” she explained.

“I’ll see how he pulls up, but would strongly suggest we’re likely to stop with him and give him a break.

“Down the track he could even be a nice horse for a race such as The Four Pillars (a Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap run over 1500m and worth $500,000) at Rosehill Gardens in early November.”

A son of 2016 dual Golden Slipper Stakes and Gold Coast Magic Millions winner Capitalist, Epicus is the third foal of the stakes-winning American mare Kiss Moon.

It’s been another excellent season for the Wyong conditioner. Epicus was her 32nd winner (she has averaged 31 in each of the last five seasons), and her horses have earned just over a benchmark $1.56m.

And she is on the move again tomorrow to saddle two youngsters – Fioprospero and Drama Dodger – in the Sprngboard To Fame 2YO Showcase Plate (1200m), which opens the Grafton Cup program.

“The horses are already in Grafton, and I’ll head up early in the morning,” she said.

. Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini edged closer to his goal of reaching the $1m prizemoney mark in the current season when he was also a Canterbury winner, with New Republic ($6) in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1900m).

New Republic’s last stride thrust edged out Malabar ($5.50), robbing star Newcastle apprentice Dylan Gibbons of the first and last winners at the meeting.

Gibbons (70 wins this season) still holds a three-win lead over rival Zac Lloyd (67), who rode a Canterbury double, in the Sydney apprentices’ premiership battle, with five meetings remaining.

New Republic, a $40,000 Melbourne yearling purchase, was Minervini’s 26th winner this season in a breakout year from his Newcastle base, and his horses have earned $935,000.

“He had won up to 1500m and I didn’t think he would manage 1900m, but one of my owners suggested we should try stepping him up in distance,” Minervini said.

“That’s my first Canterbury winner, so I’ve ticked that box.”

. Rookie Newcastle apprentice Locky Scorse’s superb start to his riding career continued by scoring on Vocation ($12) in the Country Boosted Showcase Maiden Plate (1000m) at today’s third meeting of Grafton’s July carnival.

The Armidale-trained three-year-old was 19-year-old Scorse’s third winner from 10 rides, and he is now only two wins short of his 4kg country allowance being reduced to 3kg.

Scorse got Vocation home narrowly, upsetting the fancied pair and first starters Belvedere Boys ($3.30) and The Statement ($2.20 favorite).

*Words John Curtis, July 12, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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