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  • Provincial Racing NSW


ADAM Duggan knows plenty about a challenge!

After all, the skilful Gosford trainer has taken on horses who have raced in Hong Kong and either haven’t won or had issues (or both) – and turned them into winners.

Such as last Friday night’s impressive first-up Canterbury winner Diamond Diesel (four wins), recent narrow Canterbury runner-up Border Control (three wins), and A Silvery Warrior, with whom he won on his home track in July, not having raced for more than two years after four unplaced Hong Kong starts.

Now Duggan is taking on the biggest challenge of all.

He has a lightly-raced seven-year-old called Peak in work, attempting to resurrect the gelding’s career after nearly four years on the sidelines.

“We’ve bought him out of retirement to have another go,” Duggan said.

“Peak is one of three horses (the others are Diamond Diesel and Border Control) I have at present for Hong Kong owner Derek Tam and Australian owner Peter Coffey, who race jointly under their TCR (Tam Coffey Racing) banner.

“I’ve won a dozen races for TCR in the last 15 months or so.”

Peak was a $150,000 purchase at the 2018 Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast, and won three of his only seven starts for Hawkes Racing.

His first two victories were both over 900m at Newcastle in September and October 2019, and he “bowed out” after winning a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) at Sandown on March 11, 2020.

The Per Incanto gelding sustained a tendon injury in Hong Kong in late 2020, and subsequently was returned to Australia.

“Former Sydney trainer Mark Newnham (now based in Hong Kong) was the person responsible for me getting horses from TCR, for which I am very grateful,” Duggan said.

“He tried to get Peak going again, but it didn’t work out and the horse was retired.

“Derek and Peter asked me earlier this year if I would like to have a try with Peak, and I agreed.

“I have taken my time with him. He has been in work for about four months as I’ve been building him up slowly.

“He is set to trial at Newcastle on the Beaumont track on January 5, and we’ll know more after that.

“If we can get him back to the races, it will be nearly four years between runs.”

As for Diamond Diesel, another lightly-raced seven-year-old, Duggan is beginning to think about a Provincial-Midway Championships tilt with the gelding following his barnstorming Canterbury return.

“He has definitely improved a bit from his last preparation,” he said.

“As a rule, I’ve found that generally horses are at their best in their third preparation, and that seems to be the case with Diamond Diesel.”

A stress fracture to a shoulder halted the gelding’s Hong Kong campaign at his first and only start there in June 2021, after winning a 900m Rosehill Gardens trial for Team Hawkes in January the previous year.

Duggan won first-up with him at home 13 months later in July last year, and the gelding scored again at Newcastle nearly three weeks later. Not surprisingly, both were on heavy tracks as he is by renowned mudlark sire Mossman.

In fact, in 13 starts for his Gosford trainer, he has won four, been placed six times, and only once finished further back than fourth.

And Duggan was far from disappointed with Diamond Diesel’s performance that day when 10th in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1300m) at Rosehill after his two provincial wins.

“He was on inferior ground near the inside, and I didn’t think he ran too badly at all, beaten just under four lengths,” he said.

“He came out three weeks later and ran third in another Midway Benchmark 72 over 1600m.”

Duggan is looking to start Diamond Diesel next in either the Malcolm Cusick Stakes (a 1200m Class 4 Handicap) at his home track’s Belle Of The Turf Stakes meeting on Thursday week (December 28) or a Benchmark 78 Handicap over the same distance at Royal Randwick two days later.

“His performance next time will have a major bearing on whether we give him a little freshen and have a shot at the Provincial-Midway Championships,” he said.

“It’s a funny time of the year because he has just resumed and the autumn isn’t far away. Touch wood, he is very sound and there has been no recurrence of that stress fracture problem.”

Diamond Diesel was a $65,000 buy at the 2018 Inglis Classic yearling sale. His dam, the Big Brown mare Malacca Cane (also trained by Team Hawkes), raced only three times and was a beaten favorite at her final start at Cessnock in June 2015 when, unlike her son, she wasn’t comfortable in the wet conditions.

Story John Curtis, November 19, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos

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