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HOPE IN YOUR HEART CHANGE OF PLANS


KEMBLA Grange champ Think It Over’s brilliant comeback spring campaign is over, but stablemate Hope In Your Heart is heading south chasing Group 1 glory.

Trainer Kerry Parker, who has done a tremendous job getting the former back to the races after a serious tendon injury last year threatened to end his career, has pulled the pin on a Cox Plate (2040m) start at The Valley on Saturday week.

Think It Over in four runs after such a lengthy layoff collected nearly $700,000 – including winning the 7 Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 16 – for his owner Richard Johnson, lifting his earnings to just over $7.8m.

Parker had been hopeful of getting the seven-year-old to the Cox Plate, but decided not to continue on that path after the gelding’s sixth to Fangirl in last Saturday’s $5m King Charles III Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.

“Think It Over didn’t run badly at all, but he just didn’t pick up as he normally does after having the right run on the back of the favorite Mr Brightside.” Parker said this morning.

“Perhaps the firmer track had something to do with that.

“Think It Over has been in work a long time, including his rehab, to get back and race as well as he did, and it’s best to stop now.

“I was looking at him this morning and he is in such great order, but he will go out for a spell on Friday.

“We will look ahead to the autumn, and hopefully get another shot at the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick (which he won brilliantly last year after Nash Rawiller’s daring ride brought him down the outside rail in the straight on a heavy track to snatch victory at $41).”

Rawiller has now taken the mount on Fangirl in the Cox Plate.

Whilst Think It Over is off to the paddock for a thoroughly deserved rest, Hope In Your Heart is off to Melbourne.

Rather than the $2m Five Diamonds (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 11, her target is the $1m Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) against her own sex on the opening day of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington a week earlier.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup clinched a maiden Group 1 success with the now retired Icebath in last year’s race.

“Hope In Your Heart won’t go until the Wednesday night before the Empire Rose, and Tim Clark will ride her,” Parker said.

“She wasn’t far behind Think It Over in the King Charles, and I thought she went terrific.

“Hope In Your Heart drew near the outside and went back, and finished off really well from second last at the 400m.

“She deserves her chance at another Group 1 against her own sex after racing against the ‘boys’.”

Hope In Your Heart was runner-up, with Clark aboard, to Atishu in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in April during The Championships.

Parker, who has had two Melbourne Cup runners (Gold Sovereign and Don Raphael), was last at Flemington with Think It Over, who ran second to Hawkesbury’s triple Group 1 winning mare Duais in the Australian Cup (2000m) in March last year; a month before the gelding returned home and won the Queen Elizabeth.

After having two representatives in the inaugural $5m King Charles III, it’s back to basics tomorrow for the Kembla Grange conditioner, who will have a couple of runners at Hawkesbury and another at Moruya.

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

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