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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TRAINER Paul Niceforo says apprentice Zac Lloyd deserves the ride on second favorite Territory Express in Saturday week’s Provincial-Midway Championships Final.

Niceforo on Thursday morning confirmed last season’s Sydney apprentice title winner’s booking for the gelding in the $1m feature.

“Zac qualified Territory Express for the Final, so he is entitled to stay with him,” he said.

“He rode Territory Express in a jumpout at Warwick Farm this morning, and was really happy with him.

“He said he is understanding the horse a lot better.”

Lloyd has partnered Territory Express at his last two starts, winning the opening Kembla Grange Qualifier (1400m) at Newcastle on February 29 before an unlucky photo-finish second to Democracy Manifest in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 16.

Niceforo had purposely stepped his four-year-old up sharply in class in an attempt to gain a “free ticket” into Saturday’s $4m Doncaster Mile at Randwick by winning the Ajax.

“That’s racing,” he said, referring to the four-year-old’s luckless p[assage at a vital stage in the straight.

“Our focus is firmly on the Provincial-Midway Final now, and that was his final serious workout this morning.”

Territory Express is a $5 second favorite for the Final behind Newcastle’s Tavi Time ($3.20).

Niceforo, who has only a few horses in work (one of them, Departing Bullet, is racing at Gosford today), has never had an opportunity to win a $1m race.

Having suffered two heart attacks and a stroke, he now has a wonderful opportunity to put his name up in lights on racing’s biggest stage on Day 2 of The Championships.

Territory Express’ three wins have all been on good ground, so Niceforo understandably is hoping for that surface for the Final, although the gelding has been placed three times on soft tracks.

With rain around, Ruby Flyer (one of three finalists for leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup) has tightened from $26 to $15.

He won the second Kembla Grange Qualifier (1400m) on March 19 on heavy ground at his first start since joining Widdup’s team following a change of ownership.

. Widdup’s fellow Hawkesbury trainer Marc Chevalier is desperately hoping it won’t be “third time unlucky” for his stayer Torrens, who is being readied for Saturday week’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).

“Torrens has missed the last two Sydney Cups through injury,” Chevalier said.

“He had a suspensory problem two years ago, and then pulled a muscle in the lead-up race 12 months ago on a heavy track.”

Chevalier says he won’t run Torrens in Saturday’s Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) at Randwick should the forecast rain result in a heavy surface.

“That would mean missing the Sydney Cup for the third year in a row,” he said.

“Torrens worked well yesterday morning and is in good order, but I wouldn’t go to the Cup without starting in the Chairman’s.”

Meanwhile, Chevalier is considering giving his mare Everyone’s A Star a chance to earn black type in Saturday week’s Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on the same day as the Cup.

Everyone’s A Star has won her last two starts on the Kensington track, and his original plan was to wait for a Saturday race in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 27.

“Everyone’s A Star is going so well that I will nominate her for the Sapphire (against her own sex at set weights plus penalties) and see how the race shapes up,” he said.

Story John Curtis, April 4, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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