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MARC Chevalier has a fallback plan!

The Hawkesbury trainer of course will be happy to win with Dubai Empress at his home track’s final meeting of the calendar year tomorrow, but will be just as pleased to see her finish in the placings.

Returning to provincial grade from a debut city run, the lightly-raced filly tackles the Linmark Air Conditioning Midway Maiden Handicap (1300m), with last season’s Hawkesbury premiership winner and current leader Tyler Schiller aboard.

Whilst Chevalier regards Dubai Empress as a winning chance and definite Top 3 prospect, he is also looking ahead to a new race on the first day of the Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast on January 6.

Having purchased the Pride Of Dubai filly for $45,000 at last year’s Book 2 of the MM yearling sale, he has a fallback option to head north for a $250,000 Maiden Plate (1400m) for three-year-olds if she isn’t first home on Sunday.

“Naturally I’m hoping Dubai Empress wins this weekend,” he said. “She is a nice filly and is coming out of a strong Friday night Maiden (1100m) at Canterbury on November 17.

“The runner-up (Zouphoria) has won since, and even the horse (Hot Jive) which ran last that day was just beaten at Gosford on Thursday.

“But if Dubai Empress doesn’t win and still runs well and picks up some nice place prizemoney, we will look to head to Queensland with her.

“It’s a big purse for a restricted 3YO Maiden.”

Dubai Empress had beaten six rivals in an 800m trial at home in October before making her debut at Canterbury.

Chevalier, whose three runners – Torrens (third at Rosehill Gardens), Everyone’s A Star (third at Newcastle), and The Crimson Idol (second at Hawkesbury) – all performed well last weekend, also starts Pitavago in the Ascend Trophies Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m).

Apprentice Julia Presits’ 2kg claim will lessen the mare’s weight to 55kg.

Whilst Pitavago has won first-up before, her trainer is guarded about the now seven-year-old mare’s prospects.

“She got a virus at the end of her last campaign in winter, and we gave her a good break,” Chevalier said.

“She looks well and is working well, but you’re never sure until you see them return under race conditions.

“If Pitavago doesn’t race well, we will retire her as she has been a good mare for us, and didn’t cost a lot of money.”

Meanwhile, Chevalier has kept his good stayer Torrens in work following his gutsy placing in last Saturday’s Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) at Rosehill (which he won last year at Randwick) as he earmarks another stakes target in January.

“Being a seven-year-old stallion, he would put on 50 kilos if I turned him out,” he explained.

“I’ll get him ready for the Listed Australia Day Cup (2400m) at Warwick Farm on January 26.

“If I feel he needs another run before that, there is the shorter Listed January Cup (2000m) at Rosehill on January 13.”

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup has switched to a senior jockey for Youthfull in Sunday’s T Sakkal Group Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1800m).

Andrew Adkins replaces apprentice Jett Stanley, who had no luck on the mare when she couldn’t obtain clear running in the straight and was sixth in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (2000m) at Hawkesbury last Sunday, when a $3.90 favorite.

Youthfull carries the same weight (57kg) going from a Benchmark 64 to a 68.

After the first four and a half months of the season, Chris Waller (8 wins) leads the trainers’ premiership from Kim Waugh (4 wins), Tyler Schiller (8) leads Jason Collett and Kerrin McEvoy (5 each) as he bids for a second jockeys’ title, and Zac Lloyd (4) is the apprentices’ front-runner.

. The rail is in the TRUE position, and course manager Kyle Cassim this morning posted a “Soft 5” rating, with a penetrometer reading of 5.33. There has been 4mm of rain in the last 24 hours (8.5mm in the past week). A total of 4mm of irrigation has been put on the track in the last 24 hours, and 22m in the past week.

Story John Curtis, December 9, 2023 - Pic Bradley Photos

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