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  • Provincial Racing NSW


MARC CHEVALIER celebrated his fifth win of the season when $26 outsider Pitavago scored at Newcastle yesterday, and has now achieved the number of horses he desired in his stable.

“I’ve got 18 in work, and that’s what I had aimed for when I started training at Hawkesbury two years ago,” he said today.

“It’s also as many as I want, and that number enables me to continue to be a hands-on trainer with all my horses.”

Expatriate Frenchman Chevalier has had a season to remember, having clinched a Provincial breakthrough on his home track with The Crimson Idol last November and then a city breakthrough – and stakes success to boot – at Royal Randwick the following month when Torrens took the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m).

Chevalier tried his best last year to convince Pitavago’s owners to keep racing the mare.

But when they chose to “pull the pin”, he was determined not to lose her – and it has paid off.

The rising seven-year-old won her second race for the Hawkesbury trainer and his wife Charlotte when successful in a Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1200m) yesterday.

Apprentice Julia Presits’ 3kg claim proved invaluable as, with only 52kg, the six-year-old mare held off Wyong trainer Kim Waugh’s Selfless Act ($5.50) and fellow Hawkesbury representative, Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard’s $2.40 favorite Stars and Bars, who was luckless at a crucial stage in the straight.

“I tried to get Pitavago’s syndicate of owners to keep racing her, but they wanted to have a horse who could race every couple of weeks,” Chevalier said today.

“Pitavago is best placed with her runs spaced, and doesn’t like heavy ground.

“She had four starts for them and was placed at both Hawkesbury and Wagga early last year, and was unlucky not to have won the latter.

“When the owners decided to let Pitavago go, I didn’t want to lose her as I felt she was capable of winning races.

“Fortunately, we were able to buy her online in June last year for $4250.”

Chevalier’s faith in the rising seven-year-old mare has been well and truly repaid, as she has raced six times since changing hands for the two wins (the first was at Taree in late January when first-up after 36 weeks), along with three Provincial placings, and has earned just over $50,000.

“Pitavago has been a good mare to us,” he said.

“We discovered she had sustained a pelvic injury earlier in her career, and that’s why she can be slow into stride when the barriers open.

“She jumped really well yesterday, and I’m sure that played a big part in her winning.

“Well done also to Julia (Presits), who has won three races for me this season.”

Chevalier handles Pitavago carefully, and says she will have a few quiet days following yesterday’s result.

“I don’t work her until she is back on her feed,” he explained. “She is fit now and doesn’t need much work anyway.”

Chevalier has another race picked out for Pitavago at Kembla Grange, but not until the end of the month in a Midway Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1200m) on June 27.

“I try to focus on either Provincial or Midway restricted races at the Provincials for her,” he said.

. Meanwhile, Torrens is back in work after an injury aborted Chevalier’s plan to run him in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 8.

The six-year-old stallion strained a muscle on a heavy track in the Cup lead-up, the Chairman’s Quality (2600m), at Randwick a week earlier.

“Torrens seems fine, and I’m just taking him along steadily,” Chevalier said.

“Provided all goes well, our target with him is the Group 1 The Metropolitan at Randwick in late September, especially as he has such a great record over the 2400m there.”

. Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle also was successful on his home track, landing the Benchmark 68 Handicap (1250m) with $1.55 favorite Overriding (Koby Jennings); the Star Turn filly making it three wins from five starts.

*Words John Curtis June 4, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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