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KERRY PARKER – ON THE ROAD AGAIN




IF Kerry Parker isn’t a fan of American crooner Willie Nelson’s famous hit “On The Road Again”, he surely will be after Saturday’s Newcastle meeting.

Twice in three days the Kembla Grange trainer will have made longer return trips to Newcastle as a result of transferred meetings from Central Coast venues.

Parker was at Newcastle on Thursday with recent acquisition So Sleek ($8), who ran second in the Benchmark 68 Handicap (1890m) at a fixture switched from Wyong because of the last week’s rain.

He was on the road home late yesterday afternoon when we spoke, expecting Gosford’s stand-alone meeting to also be transferred – and that was confirmed a short time later.

Whilst Parker missed out with So You Think four-year-old So Sleek, he is looking forward to backing up Queensland Oaks entry Callistemon in the 3 and 4YO Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m).

The three-year-old Territories filly has really hit her straps this preparation, winning her first two starts at Newcastle over 900m and 1250m before excellent performances when just behind the placegetters at her next two outings.

Callistemon finished strongly when fifth to Jamberoo (an acceptor for Saturday’s $500,000 The Coast) in a Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1300m) at her home track on April 20, then was out of luck when sixth to Always Sure in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1500m) at Hawkesbury’s Gold Cup fixture last Saturday.




RacingNSW stewards reported she had to be checked soon after the start, and had to be shifted to the outside between the 400m and 200m to obtain clear running.

“Callistemon only had half a race and pulled up terrific, so I’ve got no problem about backing her up,” Parker said.

“She had four runs in the latter part of last year or three seconds (all at home) and a third at Canterbury.

“Callistemon is a bit stronger now, and that is showing in her form.

“She is a nice filly, and I threw in an entry for the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm next month.

“I’m not sure she will manage that distance, but you never know.

“I haven’t had a runner in Brisbane since we won the Group 1 Queensland Derby with Dark Dream in 2018.”

Jay Ford, who won last year’s Gosford Gold Cup on Esti Feny and also rides him in Saturday’s renewal, has the Newcastle mount on Callistemon.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup claimed his 52nd winner of the season when lightly-raced filly Be Real ($5) broke through at Thursday’s Newcastle meeting.




Ridden by stable apprentice Zac Wadick, the Iffraaj three-year-old scooted home to score easily from Coastal Groove ($14) and Rhinestone Lad ($11) in the Provincial Maiden Handicap at her first attempt at 1600m.

Widdup took blinkers off Be Real after her initial three-start campaign because he felt she was racing a bit keenly, and didn’t hesitate to step her up to 1600m after resuming over 1300m when fourth at Kembla Grange on April 27.

Be Real was bred by Widdup’s close friend, New Zealander Mark Fraser-Campin, who also bred the stable’s narrow Hawkesbury Crown runner-up Short Shorts.

Be Real’s dam, the Ishiguru mare Stardom, won two races (at Rotorua in New Zealand and Ballarat), and was placed no less than 17 times.

Coincidentally, Stardom is also the dam of Tuncurry trainer Terry Evans’ Sir Ravanelli, a seven times winner. The gutsy grey lines up at Newcastle on Saturday in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m), with Darryl McLellan aboard.

Gosford trainer Adam Duggan warmed up for a tilt at the $250,000 Listed Takeover Stakes (1200m) at Newcastle by winning the Thursday closer with Rockin’ Millie (Koby Jennings), who started at $5.50 in the Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m).

Ironically, Rachel King, who will ride last start Rosehill Gardens winner Diamond Diesel for Duggan in the Takeover Target, was aboard runner-up The Escape ($2.15 favorite).

There’s always hope.

Having his 29th start and after 10 placings, five-year-old gelding Meerut ($6) finally broke through in the CG&E Maiden Handicap (1350m), giving his Newcastle trainer Terry Drayton his first success of the current season.

Wyong trainer Kim Waugh, who was beaten by Meerut with Bertie ($4.40) and also later finished second with Linguee ($14) in the F&M Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m), landed the CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m) with $5.50 chance Dimaggio, who was impressive in surging home from well back.

. The rail is in the TRUE position for the 10-race card at Newcastle, and a “Soft 7” rating was posted on Friday morning. Racing begins at 11.15am.

Story John Curtis, May 10, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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