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  • Provincial Racing NSW


AN early morning track gallop tomorrow will determine if Hawkesbury filly Nymphadora is ready to chase a Golden Slipper berth at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer Steve O’Halloran has nominated Nymphadora for the $300,000 Group 2 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) against her own sex, with the winner sealing a place in the field for the $4.9m Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23.

But he wants to be sure she is “spot on” following a luckless sixth to favorite Fully Lit – beaten under two lengths after a wide run - in the $2m Inglis Millennium (1100m) at Randwick on February 10.

“Nymphadora was a bit quiet for a couple of days afterwards, which was understandable considering she had a pretty hard race,” O’Halloran said today.

“She bounced out of it pretty well just the same and I’ve been happy with her since.

“Provided she pleases me in her work in the morning, I’ll accept for the Sweet Embrace.

“Otherwise we will wait another week for either the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) at Randwick, or $250,000 Group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra the following day.”

The Reisling is both also for two-year-old fillies and carries Golden Slipper exemption, whilst the Black Opal first prize of $150,000 for all two-year-olds would go a long way toward getting into the Slipper field in terms of prizemoney.

Nymphadora, a $30,000 Inglis Classic yearling from last year, turned in an outstanding performance when third in the Inglis Nursery (1000m) at Randwick on December 9 at her previous start.

O’Halloran knows plenty about winning Golden Slippers, having been closely associated with six of them during his lengthy time firstly with Gai Waterhouse and also later with Adrian Bott when he became her co-trainer.

Whilst he was understandably disappointed about the Millennium result, he went back to this year’s Classic sale after that race and bought another youngster, a King’s Legacy filly, from the same establishment (Tyreel Stud) which offered Nymphadora.

“Most of the Nymphadora syndicate also got involved with the new filly, and Fox Sports rugby league host Yvonne O’Keefe (nee Sampson) also took a share,” O’Halloran said.

“Yvonne is an Inglis ambassador and did a story on Nymphadora leading up to the Millennium.

“She met many of the filly’s owners at the Millennium meeting, and decided to become involved with the King’s Legacy filly. We’re delighted to have her on board.”

Newcastle trainer Paul Perry’s recent impressive Canterbury night winner Totoka is the other provincial nomination in the Sweet Embrace.

Whilst Totoka, who has raced only twice, is not currently a Slipper entry, she can force her way into the world’s richest race for two-year-olds by winning on Saturday.

Perry also is no stranger to Golden Slipper success, having won the race with Stratum (Len Beasley) in 2005.

. Twenty-six horses have been entered for Thursday’s 1400m opening heat of the 2024 Provincial-Midway Championships at Kembla Grange, and 22 for Saturday’s second heat at Newcastle.

The Kembla Grange race is for both eligible Midway and provincial-trained horses, and the Newcastle event for provincial horses only.

The first two placegetters in each race automatically qualify for the first ever $1m Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 13 (Day 2 of The Championships).

Hawkesbury’s Group 1 placegetter Strait Acer, trained by Edward Cummings, is the new favorite with for the Final.

An entry for Thursday’s Qualifier, Strait Acer has been installed as the $3.50 Final favorite, with earlier favorite Tavi Time at $4.50.

Tavi Time has been nominated for both Kembla Grange and Newcastle, and is expected to start on his home track.

Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker is hoping the colors carried by his Nowra winner today will bring just as much joy at Randwick on Saturday.

Parker won the CG&E Maiden Plate (1100m) with $3 favorite Well Timed (Brock Ryan), raced in the same interests as his champ Think It Over, who will have his second run back in Saturday’s $1m Group 1 Verry Elleegant Stakes (1600m).

Story John Curtis, February 26, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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