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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KEMBLA Grange champ Think It Over is “going great guns” ahead of his keenly awaited resumption at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

But his trainer Kerry Parker also says the gelding is open to improvement ahead of his main autumn target – the $5m Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) there on April 13 on Day 2 of The Championships.

Think It Over’s regular rider Nash Rawiller is back from suspension to partner the $7.8m earner in the Group 2 weight-for-age Apollo Stakes (1400m).

“Think It Over has a terrific fresh record, and won the Apollo first-up two years ago on the way to winning the Queen Elizabeth as well,” Parker said this morning.

“But obviously he’s a bit older now, and there is definitely room for improvement.

“Think It Over has drawn a bit awkwardly on Saturday with most of the speed drawn inside him, but Nash will take care of that.

“The horse is going great guns and is such a competitor that I’m sure he will run a very bold race.”

Whilst Think It Over easily won the Apollo from Colette and Special Reward in 2022, he was still recuperating from a serious tendon injury when last year’s renewal took place.

Parker has planned three wfa lead-ups to the Queen Elizabeth, beginning with Saturday’s assignment and then the $1m Group 1 Verry Elleegant (previously Chipping Norton) Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on March 2.

“Probably he will go to the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23, with a gap of another three weeks to the Queen Elizabeth,” he said.

With Parker’s classy mare Hope In Your Heart sidelined, it’s up to Think It Over to keep the stable flag flying high as he does so often.

Hope In Your Heart sustained a hind leg injury late last month when she kicked out at the Warwick Farm trials, and as a result couldn’t contest a scheduled 900m Group heat (won by Learning To Fly) on the course proper.

“It was a pretty deep cut and required five or six stitches,” Parker said.

“We’ll know more when the stitches come out as to whether we can get her ready for the latter part of the autumn.

“If that isn’t the case, there is still the Brisbane winter carnival.”

Fellow Kembla Grange trainer Ben Smith has withdrawn West Of Dalby from Saturday’s Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick against her sex after she drew barrier 11 in a field of 13.

Instead, the three-year-old filly will make her open company debut in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m), run at set weights plus penalties.

West Of Dalby (Brock Ryan) hasn’t drawn well there either at seven, but it is a much smaller field and her trainer doesn’t want her having a gut-buster first-up with an ambitious autumn campaign ahead.

The daughter of Santos will head south later in the month for the $1m Inglis Classic (1100m) at Flemington on March 2, then return home for a shot at the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens three weeks later.

Smith won the feature sprint with In Her Time six years ago when he was training at Newcastle.

West Of Dalby isn’t the only provincial representative in the Expressway. Talented Hawkesbury sprinter Strait Acer, placed in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in mid-November, also begins an autumn campaign which connections hope will lead to the Group 1 Doncaster Mile a Randwick on April 6.

Strait Acer, who made enormous progress at his last campaign and also was runner-up in the Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick in October and a close fourth in the $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill in early November, is currently at $26 with for the Doncaster.

Story John Curtis, February 15, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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