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  • Provincial Racing NSW


SAM Kavanagh’s hopes of winning last year’s Provincial-Midway Championships Final with Kayobi were dashed by a very heavy track.

Now the Newcastle trainer is hoping to get the same horse into Saturday week’s $1m Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick via a back door entry in tomorrow’s Wild Card (1400m) on his home track.

The first three placegetters will fill the last spots in the Final field- so it’s now or never for Kayobi.

Kavanagh had to withdraw the five-year-old with a veterinary certificate from the Kembla Grange Qualifier (1400m) on March 23 because he had a temperature.

However as Kayobi was an acceptor for that race, he is eligible under the conditions of the series to contest the Wild Card.

Kayobi won the Gosford Qualifier (1200m) last year before starting a $3.60 favorite in the Final three weeks later when fourth to Spangler on a heavy surface.

Spangler had been runner-up to his stablemate Loch Eagle in the Wild Card before turning the tables in the Final.

“It was the 14th race at The Championships last year after 10 races had been held a week earlier also on a heavy track,” Kavanagh said.

“Kayobi wasn’t comfortable at all. He had won a Benchmark 64 Handicap at Kembla Grange (in October, 2022) on a heavy track, but it was a drying track that day. Randwick wasn’t at The Championships.”

Kayobi bled from both nostrils at his last run when narrowly beaten by Super Helpful in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m) on a “Good 4” surface at Rosehill Gardens on October 7, and incurred a mandatory ban.

Though naturally disappointed that occurred, Kavanagh has taken heart from the form out of that race.

“Super Helpful ran third in the $3m The Big Dance at Randwick in November, and the third Rosehill placegetter Gringotts won first-up there last Saturday,” he said.

“Obviously, I wanted to run him first-up at Kembla Grange, so this is our last chance to qualify for the Final again.

“Kayobi has a terrific first-up record (two wins and three placings from five fresh starts), and I’m optimistic he can do it.

“It would be such a fantastic boost for our stable to get into a $1m Final at The Championships with a real hope of winning.”

Because of serious health issues, Kavanagh has had to cut his team to 14 – but is keen to start building up again.

What better way to put his name back up in lights again than by winning Saturday week’s PM Final?

Kayobi has raced only 11 times, and never finished further back than fourth. His record stands at four wins and five placings – and two fourths.

Ash Morgan, who partnered Kayobi in his first two wins at Scone in June 2022, is back aboard.

The Wild Card is regarded as a “match in three” with Kayobi a $4.80 third favorite with, behind fellow Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ Willinga Freefall ($4) and Warwick Farm-trained Terra Mater ($4.40).

Willinga Freefall (to be ridden by Jason Collett) and Terra Mater (Nash Rawiller) were both excellent in finishing third and fourth in the Gosford Qualifier.

Another Newcastle trainer Scott Aspery scratched Uzziah (Rachel King) from a Rosehill Gardens Midway Handicap last Saturday to also run in the Wild Card and chase a spot in the 15-horse Final line-up.

Kembla Grange trainer Ross McConville has withdrawn dual acceptor C’mon Mate from the Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1250m) to contest the Wild Card, and Robbie Downey has the mount.

. The rail is out 6m for the Wild Card meeting, which begins at 1.45pm.

Story John Curtis, April 2, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos



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