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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KEMBLA Grange trainer Ben Smith is keeping his options open with talented filly West Of Dalby, who resumes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

He has dually nominated her for the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) against her own sex, and open company Expressway Stakes over the same distance.

Both races carry Group 2 status and prizemoney of $300,000 each.

The Light Fingers is at set weights for three-year-old fillies, whilst the Expressway is run at set weights and penalties.

Whilst last start Doomben black type winner West Of Dalby was expected to begin an ambitious autumn campaign in the Light Fingers, Smith hasn’t ruled out lining her up instead in the Expressway.

“I will accept in both races, and make a decision once we know the fields,” he said today from the Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“There is every chance the Expressway won’t be a big field and we can go there if she draws poorly in the Light Fingers.

“Whereas West Of Dalby has 56kg in the Light Fingers, she has only 51kg in the Expressway and 5.5kg less than the favorite Buenos Noches.

“She has a big campaign ahead, and is going really well, but I don’t want her having a hard run first-up.”

West Of Dalby was rested after upsetting subsequent $3m Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner Abounding in the Listed Mode Plate (1200m) at Doomben on December 2, and has impressed in both 900m trials at Rosehill Gardens since being put back into work.

She won a Group trial (Buenos Noches was a close fifth) on the course proper on January 25 before a close second to the smart Red Card, a six-times winner, in an Open heat on February 5.

Brock Ryan has ridden West Of Dalby in two of her three wins, and also in both recent trials, and will partner her in whichever race she contests on Saturday.

Smith has a Melbourne mission planned for the Santos filly after her first run back; the $1m Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Flemington on March 2.

“West Of Dalby will go to Melbourne overnight on February 27 and arrive there the following morning,” he said.

“She was in Melbourne last spring, and all her work will have been done at home before going south.”

Following that race, West Of Dalby returns to her Kembla Grange stable and will be aimed at the $1m The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23; a Group 1 feature her trainer won with In Her Time in 2018.

Smith is also looking forward to resuming other three-year-old fillies Vieste and Mah Ali at Canterbury on Friday night, with both also in line to head to Melbourne with West Of Dalby.

Vieste and Mah Ali, both successful on the same program at Newcastle on September 30, will contest the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1550m) for three and four-year-olds.

Smith has Sam Clipperton and Zac Lloyd on standby to ride the pair, but is yet to decide who will partner which filly.

“Provided they both race well, they will go to Melbourne for the $1m Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on the same program as the Inglis Sprint,” he said.

Smith also runs last start Canterbury winner Arale there on Friday night in the Evening Star Benchmark 78 Handicap (1550m), and a Melbourne trip also is in the offing for her if she performs up to expectations.

Meanwhile, Smith feels last Saturday’s beaten Newcastle favorite Outakandy may have got his tongue over the bit when a fading last of six runners in Star Impact’s Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m).

The lightly-raced three-year-old had won his previous two starts at Kembla Grange (1300m) and Wyong (1600m).

Story John Curtis, February 12, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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