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  • Provincial Racing NSW


RUNNER-UP 12 months ago, Cloudland now has the chance to go one better in today’s Provincial-Midway Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Kembla Grange.

The ultra-consistent five-year-old is the new favorite at $4.40 following the withdrawals as expected this morning of fancied pair Ausbred Flirt and Dream Hour.

A “Heavy 8” rating influenced their scratchings, and they will now be kept for either next Saturday’s Wyong Qualifier (1350m) or the Newcastle Wild Card (1400m) on April 3.

Cloudland chased home Short Shorts (who has again qualified for this year’s $1m Final at Royal Randwick on April 13) at Kembla Grange last year, and resumed when third to Territory Express in the opening Qualifier of the 2024 series at that track on February 29.

Cloudland (Andrew Gibbons) has raced 12 times for five wins and as many placings, and heads up leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ six runners in today’s Qualifier.

In a new market, Cloudland, Tavs ($6.50) and Peace Officer ($8) are the only horses under double figures.

Tavs was withdrawn from the Rosehill Gardens opener to contest the Kembla Grange race.

Whilst Widdup has withdrawn Ausbred Flirt, he will still have a representative in recent acquisition Ruby Flyer ($10).

He is now training the talented five-year-old, who has had a change of ownership.

The lightly-raced gelding’s previous trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard did a terrific job with him, winning four of 10 starts.

Ruby Flyer’s first two victories in a Provincial Maiden Plate (1350m) at Wyong and Midway Class 1 Handicap (1600m) at Hawkesbury in April and May last year were by dominant margins, albeit in weaker class.

But he showed he is clearly up to better company by finishing third to Bold Mac and Protagonist in the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury last August before a break.

Ruby Flyer has been with his new trainer for only a few weeks, and finished sixth to last Saturday’s Rosehill Gardens winner Red Card in a 1000m barrier trial at home on March 11 in preparation for his resumption.

Short Shorts (Alysha Collett) will have her lead-up to the PMC Final in today’s Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, and her stablemate, last start Randwick winner Tintookie, also lines up despite drawing the outside barrier in a big field.

Lees, who has already qualified Tavi Time, Convincebility and Willinga Beast for the April 13 Final, also runs Basarwa (Jeff Penza), Little Beginnings (Christian Reith), Sailor (Ben Osmond), Baltic Coast (Keagan Latham), and Per Inaway (Louise Day) today.

He has decided to take blinkers off Basarwa, and leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price are putting blinkers back on their representative Victory Lane (Brock Ryan), but visors come off.

Fellow Kembla Grange trainers Ben Smith (Mah Ali), Ross McConville (C’mon Mate) and Kerry Parker (Well Timed) have all secured starts with the first three emergencies.

Grant Buckley rides Mah Ali, Robbie Downey is on C’mon Mate, and Mikayla Weir goes on to Well Timed, who races in the same colours as his champion stablemate Think It Over.

. The rail is out 4m from the 1100m to the winning post, and 3m for the remainder of the circuit.

The latest prices of the eight horses already qualified for the PMC Final are:

$2.80 Tavi Time (Kris Lees)

$4 Territory Express (Paul Niceforo)

$5 Shadows Of Love (Kim Waugh)

$15 Short Shorts (Brad Widdup)

$15 Willaidow (Marc Connners)

$15 Willinga Beast (Lees)

$34 Nosey Parker (Paul Perry)

$51 Convincebility (Lees)

Story John Curtis, March 23, 2024


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