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  • Provincial Racing NSW


YOU can’t keep a good man down!

Ken Lantry has held a licence for nigh on five decades, and was back in the winning list at his home track at Newcastle on Saturday, for the first time in nearly four years with the only horse he has in work.

Lantry trained My Mate Cobber (Mitchell Bell), who won the Provincial 3YO & Up Maiden Handicap (1200m) by nearly two lengths as a $6.50 chance.

His previous winner was Hillandale ($11) in a 1600m Maiden Handicap at Scone on September 3, 2020.

The now retired former country champion jockey Greg Ryan rode Hillandale, and ironically My Mate Cobber’s jockey Bell was on runner-up Another Sonette that day.

My Mate Cobber, a four-year-old by Dissident, “came of age” as his Newcastle breakthrough after nine minor placings was achieved at his 21st start.

“The only surprising part about his win was that it took him so long to do it,” Lantry said.

“I expected him to be winning a race well before this.

“He was ready a couple of weeks ago on the Beaumont track, but the meeting was transferred to Muswellbrook.

“Unfortunately, his 1150m race came back to 1000m, and it was too short for him but he still ran well when second to a Kris Lees’ filly (Etude).”

Lantry describes himself as a hobby trainer nowadays, and didn’t have a runner between June 2022 and September 8 last year when My Mate Cobber resumed at Tuncurry.

The gelding spent time with Coffs Harbour trainer Paul Smith whilst Lantry took a break.

“My Mate Cobber has come back in good form after a decent spell as he was also placed first-up over 900m at Newcastle before his Muswellbrook second,” Lantry said.

My Mate Cobber is raced by Lantry’s good friends Warren Skinner, Ray Davis, Neville Willott and the trainer’s daughter Kristy Sinclair.

“Warren played Aussie Rules in Brisbane, and named this horse after a mate,” Lantry explained.

A former first grade rugby league player, Lantry spent 10 years with Waratah in the Newcastle competition, was awarded life membership and was captain-coach of the first grade team in 1975 and captain-coach of the reserve grade side in his last year at the club.

He also spent some time as captain-coach at Scone, and also earned representative honours playing for Newcastle, and Northern Division when based at Scone.

Lantry has the distinction of winning at his only ride in Sydney as an apprentice on Little Nigger at a midweek meeting at Canterbury in 1962.

Though his days in the saddle were limited to little more than a year because of increasing weight, he won four races on Little Nigger.

Fellow former jockeys and Newcastle legends Paul Perry and the late Max Lees also won races on the horse.

Lantry was thrilled to have a runner (Ambivalent) in his hometown Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup in 2014, especially after his grey mare had won over 2000m at Rosehill Gardens in her final lead-up, but Mitchell Bell eased her down when her action didn’t feel right on the home turn.

There is, however, still a Newcastle connection to five-times winner Ambivalent.

Her second foal, former Victorian Dream Hour (by Dawn Approach) is now trained locally by Kris Lees and ran ninth in the recent Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm.


HOOFNOTE: Lantry may give My Mate Cobber his next run at Scone on July 12 in a Class 1 Handicap (1300m).

But before then, he has a more pressing matter. He and his wife Julie are heading to the mid-north coast on Monday for a week’s break.

Lantry, along with Lees and Sam Kavanagh, were the three successful provincial trainers at the Newcastle meeting.

Lees won the Class 1 Handicap (1400m) with $3.10 favorite Imposant (Andrew Gibbons), and Kavanagh’s Metallic Ruler (Jean Van Overmeire) resumed to land the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) at $7.50.

Three-times winner Metallic Ruler ran sixth in the Group 3 Newcastle Spring Stakes (1600m) last November, and was having his first start since December 30 at Royal Randwick.

Story John Curtis, June 30, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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