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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KEMBLA Grange trainer Kerry Parker’s triumph with comeback champ Think It Over at Royal Randwick yesterday highlighted a huge weekend for provincial stables.

No less than 13 winners spread far and wide – from Brisbane’s Eagle Farm in the north to Nowra in the south – greeted the judge.

Along with Think It Over’s win at $5 in a new race, the $1m wfa 7 Stakes (1600m), fellow Kembla Grange co-trainers Rob and Luke Price won the opener at headquarters with Satness, and Hawkesbury trainers Brad Widdup and Ed Cummings also joined the Randwick winner’s list with Ausbred Flirt and Strait Acer respectively.

Six of the eight races at Newcastle went to the provincials, Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer picked off another Brisbane race with the talented Hard To Say at Eagle Farm, and Wyong trainer Allan Kehoe ventured far and wide, taking the Bowraville Cup yesterday as well the opener at Nowra today.

Parker deserves great credit for skilfully guiding Think It Over back from a serious tendon injury last year which threatened to end his career, and the eight-year-old gelding’s victory over arch rival Zaaki was his 13th win and lifted his earnings to just over $7.76m.

Now he is focused on further features in the coming weeks with both Think It Over and Hope In Your Heart, who heads to the $1.5m Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday week.

In spite of his magnificent comeback, Think It Over is still being somewhat overlooked in betting on his next assignment, the $5m King Charles III Stakes over the Randwick “mile” on October 14, currently being on the fourth line of betting at $9 with behind Melbourne marvel Mr Brightside ($2.80 favorite).

Not that Parker is worried in the least.

“We don’t mind being the underdog at all,” he said today.

“I was confident Think It Over would be hard to beat yesterday from an inside alley, as everything suggested he was going to get a gun run.

“Importantly, he ate up overnight and has pulled up well.

“We’ll just keep going through the motions with him in the month between runs, and he might have a trial leading up to the King Charles Stakes.

“All going well, he will then have a crack at the Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley a fortnight later.”

Parker toyed with the idea of also starting Hope In Your Heart, an excellent first-up third to Pericles in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago, with Think It Over in the 7 Stakes, but decided against running her again before the Epsom.

“She will either trial (over 1030m) at Rosehill Gardens on Tuesday, or have an exhibition gallop between races at our home meeting on Saturday,” he said.

“I’m confident she will be ready to go into the Epsom second up.

“Tim Clark (who hasn’t ridden since being injured when dislodged from Kalapour in the Wyong Cup drama on September 1), has first refusal of the Epsom mount, and I’m expecting to hear from him either today or tomorrow as to his availability.”

Father and son Rob and Luke Price’s victory with Satness ($10) in the Midway Handicap (1600m) provided former stable apprentice and now senior jockey Brock Ryan with a return to the Randwick winners’ list, having only recently resumed riding after a lengthy layoff because of injury.

Ryan followed that up with a clever winning ride on Tip Top Timing ($5) at Nowra today.

Provided Satness continues to do well, the Price boys will aim him toward the Midway The Four Pillars (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 4.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup was delighted to get smart mare Ausbred Flirt ($15) back into the winning list in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m) at Randwick at her resumption after suffering a bleeding attack at Hawkesbury’s Saturday stand-alone meeting on April 22.

That incurred an automatic three months’ ban from racing, and her trainer prepared the lightly-raced daughter of Maurice for a first-up tilt.

“Under the rules, you can’t have a horse in the stable for 60 days after they have bled, but we gave her a spell and took her along steadily once she came back into work,” Widdup said.

“Ausbred Flirt had trialled well, and it was good to see her win so nicely against a pretty good field.

“Obviously, the aim is secure black type with her, but I won’t be rushing into throwing her into the deep end just yet to achieve that.”

Ausbred Flirt’s major owners, Chris and Lynne Lawlor (of International Animal Health Products and great supporters of Hawkesbury trainers), had a memorable day, also sharing in the ownership of French import Carini, an impressive last-race Flemington winner yesterday.

Widdup claimed a two-track Saturday double as he also scored with promising filly Left Field ($2.05 favorite) in the Maiden Plate (1250m) against her own sex at Newcastle at her first start for him.

The Deep Field filly carries the same colours as 2019 Group 2 The Ingham (formerly Villiers Stakes) winner Quackerjack, and 2001 Magic Millions winner and Golden Slipper runner-up Excellerator.

A $240,000 Magic Millions yearling buy, Left Field was initially trained, like Quackerjack, by now Hong Kong-based Mark Newnham.

“I’ve got a few horses for Left Field’s syndicate manager Frank Mittiga, and it was great to get this filly’s Maiden out of the way,” Widdup said.

“She is still doing a bit wrong, and that being only her third start, she needs to continue learning how to race.

“Alysha Collett said she wanted to stargaze when she hit the front yesterday.”

Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Ed Cummings is understandably thinking big after his promising four-year-old Strait Acer ($2.60 favorite) took the Shoot Out Mile at Randwick to make it three wins on the bounce in town.

Cummings is looking toward the $1m Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick on October 14 as a lead-up to the $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens three weeks later. Both races are restricted to four-year-olds, with the latter to be run at set weights.

Widdup’s Left Field was one of six provincial winners from the eight Newcastle races yesterday.

Newcastle’s Paul Perry claimed a double with Florida Sky ($3) and Mr Trackside ($4.60), fellow Novocastrians Kris Lees and David Atkins scored with Terrameades ($3.10 favorite) and Two Up ($5.50) respectively, and Wyong’s Wayne Seelin won with Apache Belle ($9.50), who was the first leg of last season’s leading provincial jockey Keagan Latham’s treble at the meeting.

Newcastle’s Jason Deamer is making a habit of venturing north and plundering Queensland riches with his smart sprinter Hard To Say.

With Ashley Morgan again aboard, Hard To Say ($3 favorite) clinched a two-State hat-trick in the early part of the new season when he took the Class 6 Plate (1000m) at Eagle Farm.

The Dynamic Syndications-raced four-year-old had won over 1100m at Rosehill on August 5 and 1050m at Doomben on August 26.

Three of Hard To Say’s five career successes have been in Queensland, having also won at the Sunshine Coast in January over 1000m. Morgan has partnered the gelding in three of those wins.

Wyong’s Allan Kehoe certainly covered some kilometres to get a weekend double, with Barney Rabble ($4.40) in yesterday’s Bowraville Cup (1370m), and the unusually-named Mrs Ed ($3.60) at Nowra today.

Wyong apprentice Anna Roper, after winning on Barney Rabble, also won the last at Bowraville on $2.30 favorite Star Of Yamba.

*Words John Curtis, September 17, 2023 - Pics Steve Hart Photographics*

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