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AS a rainstorm continued to hit Newcastle on Saturday, Sam Kavanagh put a plan in place to play the game with a different type of “storm”.

And it worked, with not even a late riding change raining on his parade!

The Newcastle trainer clinched his seventh winner of the season when Spirit Of Storm ($6.50), surely the day’s topical tip given the weather, took the Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1200m).

Replacement jockey Jean Van Overmeire, who stepped in when RacingNSW stewards ruled out Robbie Downey because he was overweight and pinched him $200, gave Spirit Of Storm a beaut ride and navigated exactly the section of track in the straight where Kavanagh had sorted.

I wasn’t worried about the heavy ground as the mare had been narrowly beaten in a similar race at home a month ago on a Soft 7,” Kavanagh explained on Sunday morning.

“I walked the track beforehand and found what I believed was the best ground out wider in the straight and also rang the course manager Chris Nation to get his opinion, and he confirmed what I thought.

“Robbie (Downey) rode Spirit Of Storm at her last run (1kg over at 56kg), and when stewards wouldn’t let him ride her again, I didn’t mind putting Jean on.

“We love JVO, and he did a great job for us.

“I was particularly pleased for Spirit Of Storm’s large group of owners as she is a rising five-year-old and has raced only 11 times, and that was her second win (along with four placings).”

An $80,000 yearling buy at the Gold Coast in 2021, the daughter of dual Group 1 winner (2014 William Reid Stakes at The Valley and Doomben Ten Thousand) Spirit Of Boom and American-bred mare Rahy Storm did not race as a two-year-old and started only twice midway through her three-year-old season.

“She isn’t a big mare, and we gave her time to furnish out fully,” Kavanagh said.

“Unfortunately, she didn’t really do that and that’s why we have often spaced her runs.

“Spirit Of Storm is happier being in work.

“I’ll look for another suitable race at Newcastle, but if there isn’t one in the next few weeks, I might throw her in the deep end and have a crack at a midweek race in town against her own sex.”

Kavanagh secured Spirit Of Storm’s victory just in time as the remaining four races were called off after she had won, because of deteriorating conditions and poor visibility.

It’s been a difficult season on and off the track for Kavanagh, who continues to bravely scrap a serious health issue, and says he is “winning the war, but fighting a lot of little battles”.

As a result, he has had only 84 starters so far this season for seven wins (89 career victories) and 22 placings.

His spirit and determination remain undiminished, and he is looking ahead to these winter months with real optimism.

“I’ve got a nice little group of horses at present, but am very keen to rebuild my stable and would welcome any owners who would like to give me their horses to train,” he said.

“I was rapt with Kayobi’s close fourth (beaten less than a length) in the Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone stand-alone meeting a fortnight ago.

“That was only his second run back, and he will go to a Benchmark 94 Handicap (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday.

“Provided he continues to race well, a race such as the Coffs Harbour Cup (1600m) in early August is definitely on the radar.

“Magnater, who won for us on the Kensington track on Anzac Day and ran third at Scone the same day as Kayobi, also goes back to Randwick on Saturday for a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m).

“And I’ve got a promising lightly-raced three-year-old Metallic Ruler, who has already won twice and ran sixth in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle last November.

“He is ready to resume against his own age in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1250m) at the Canterbury Monday public holiday meeting next week.”

. Provincial acceptors Sky Lab (Paul Perry), Hosier (Mark Minervini) and Torrens (Marc Chevalier) all missed runs at Rosehill Gardens when the Listed Lord Mayors Cup (2000m) was a casualty of the final five races also being halted.

However, the race has been added to Saturday’s Royal Randwick meeting, and fresh nominations will be called, closing at 11am on Monday, June 3.

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

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