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  • Provincial Racing NSW


WHAT a day for Hawkesbury stables!

Local trainers won five of the eight races and very nearly a sixth, and threw in two trifecta results to boot.

Husband and wife training partners Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard led the way with a double, and Terry Croft, Wayne Austin and Michael Freedman chipped in with a winner each.

Team Attard won the opener, the Sunday Session Raceday June 11 Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m) with Leandra ($1.90 favorite), then had to wait until the closer, the Irresistible Pools & Spas Midway Class 1 Handicap (1600m), with the promising Ruby Flyer (pictured) ($3.20 second favorite).

Croft broke through with Lady Gold ($5) in the Maiden Handicap (1500m), as did Austin with Jabali Belle ($12) in the XXXX Gold Maiden Plate (1100m), and Royal Randwick trainer Freedman’s second stable at Hawkesbury won the Lander Toyota Class 1 Handicap (1000m) with Meod ($11).

Leandra beat Brad Widdup’s Likeabomb ($8.50) and Peter Green’s Killer Kerr ($31), whilst Ruby Flyer was too good for Blake Ryan’s Critical Time ($15) and Edward O’Rourke’s Special Day ($10).

Fellow Randwick trainer John O’Shea’s Hawkesbury barn almost made it six for the day when Gorgeous Zara ($5.50) was just nudged out by Funambulist ($6) in the Eclipse Insurance Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m).

RacingNSW stewards later questioned Chad Schofield regarding his riding of Gorgeous Zara. He said he anticipated settling in a forward position, but the filly was buffeted between two other horses soon after the start and became unbalanced, meaning he wasn’t able to be positive on her in the early stages.

Stewards noted his explanation in not settling in a more forward position.

“An awesome day at the office,” was how Jason Attard summed up he and wife Lucy’s two winners.

It was the couple’s second double at their home track this racing year, which has been a breakout season for them.

Team Attard has won a benchmark 11 races since last August (including six at Hawkesbury), and overall 30 winners since they formed a training partnership a few years ago.

“We love winning races at Hawkesbury, and especially getting a double today with two very nice horses,” Jason Attard said.

“It was terrific to win another race for one of our great supporters Kate Nivison (Etak Thoroughbreds), who bred Leandra.

“She is a nice filly, and we haven’t pushed her. Very pleasing to get her maiden out of the way, and we’ll give her the chance to go through the classes.”

Rachel King’s success on Choisir filly Leandra drew her level with apprentice Zac Lloyd (nine wins each) in the jockeys’ premiership.

Attard was understandably rapt with four-year-old Ruby Flyer, who made it two in a row for the gelding’s breeder-owner John Kelly.

Given a perfect run in transit by Jason Collett, Ruby Flyer made light of his 59kg topweight to easily make the transition from Maiden to Class 1 company, scoring with ease by two and a half lengths.

“I didn’t get him to break in until he was two and a half, and I’ve got no doubt he has a lot of upside,” Attard said.

“Hopefully he turns out as good as Sons Of John and his mum Kellyville Flyer.”

Attard when training solo won the 2015 Hawkesbury Gold Cup with Sons of John, who a few months later almost upset Winx in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens.

Ruby Flyer is the first foal of Sons Of John’s older sister Kellyville Flyer, who won five races for Attard and also notched two Group 3 placings (Belle Of The Turf Stakes at Gosford, and Newcastle Newmarket).

“Ruby Flyer appreciates soft ground, and it’s the right time of the year to have him in work,” Jason Attard said.

“We’ll probably give him another run at 1600m and then step him up to perhaps a midweek or Midway in town.”

Terry Croft was pleased to clinch a breakthrough with Lady Gold (Kathy O’Hara), who had to survive a protest lodged by runner-up Lumiere’s rider Regan Bayliss, claiming interference in the home straight.

But he conceded time has beaten him to get the three-year-old filly to Brisbane for the $700,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 3.

“Lady Gold is a daughter of Profits Rock, who was bred by Royal Hotel Richmond publican Peter Wynne by sending her dam Natural Tycoon to New Zealand to be mated with the great sire Zabeel,” Croft said.

“Though the Oaks in Brisbane has come too quickly for us, there is an 1800m race for three-year-olds at Rosehill Gardens the same day.”

Kathy O’Hara helped herself to a double and gave Wayne Austin his second winner of the season (Promise The Moon at Gosford on December 31 was his first) when Jabali Belle scored first-up.

O’Hara gave the four-year-old mare a sweet run, then got her out to the centre of the track after straightening – and she did the rest.

Jabali Belle had been placed at Hawkesbury and Wyong at her first two starts late last year, and her trainer did an excellent job to prepare her for a first-up victory on the back of a close second in an 845m Wyong trial on May 2.

Sadly, Jabali Belle’s dam, the thrice Victorian winner Rock Me Sweet, died in November 2021.

Three-year-old Exceed and Excel filly Meod (Keagan Latham) made it two wins from six starts when successful at her third start this campaign.

A $500,000 2021 Australian Easter yearling purchase, her breakthrough came in a 1000m Wyong Maiden last November.

Racing NSW stewards reported that two unplaced Hawkesbury horses, who had won at their previous runs, pulled up with issues.

Edward O’Rourke’s Kunnese ($4.20) finished last in Meod’s race, and as this was the second time he had the thumps after racing at his home track, his trainer said he would recommend not racing again at Hawkesbury.

Brad Widdup’s Hayatti ($3.50) also ran last in the Richmond Club Class 1 Handicap (1300m), and was 2/5 lame in the off foreleg.

*Words John Curtis - May 18, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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