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  • Provincial Racing NSW


DAMIEN Lane had to be content with second placing with Too Good To Be Tru in the Grafton Guineas three years ago.

Now the Wyong trainer is hoping to go one better in Wednesday’s $80,000 1600m feature for three-year-olds with today’s impressive Hawkesbury winner Pluckten.

Ridden by Lane’s apprentice Anna Roper, Pluckten ($14) burst through near the inside to put a tidy gap between himself and runner-up, Hawkesbury trainer Blake Ryan’s Shadow Express ($7.50), in the Clarendon Tavern Midway Class 1 Handicap (1500m).

It was Pluckten’s second victory at only his sixth start, having broken through in a 1350m Maiden at home in late January (defeating today’s earlier Hawkesbury winner Fugitiva) before a break.

“He has been a slow maturer, but is a nice horse heading in the right direction,” Lane said as he headed home.

“I mentioned to the owners beforehand that if Pluckten ran ‘top 3’ at Hawkesbury and pulled up well, we would have a crack at the Guineas.”

Lane, a regular visitor to Grafton’s July carnival, will have runners on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.

And whilst he will take his Sunday representatives north on Saturday, Pluckten will not be floated to Grafton until the day before the race.

However, Lane has had to source a replacement rider for the three-year-old, who is a younger half-brother to stablemate Denetta, who ran second to Phearson in a Provincial-Midway Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Hawkesbury last year.

Anna Roper was suspended at Tamworth last Friday, and her term begins on Sunday and she cannot ride again until Thursday.

“I’m waiting for confirmation, but either Ash Morgan or Ben Looker will ride Pluckten in the Guineas,” Lane said.

Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle’s Irish Bliss ($4 second favorite) ran fourth in Pluckten’s race, and is also a Guineas nomination.

There are six provincial entries for the Guineas; Tony Newing, then based at Gosford, was the last provincial trainer to win the race when Charmed Princess scored in 2019.

Six provincial horses also have been nominated for Wednesday’s $200,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m), with Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan’s Cecil Street Lad (54kg) guaranteed a start because of his John Carlton Cup victory there last Sunday.

Then Newcastle trainer Peter Dombkins was the last provincial trainer to win the Ramornie, scoring with Eyes To Spy (Chris O’Brien) in 1999.

There are also four provincial entries for Thursday’s $200,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m), which leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees won in 2020 with Sixties Groove, ridden by Jason Collett.

Clarence River Jockey Club chief executive Michael Beattie is thrilled with entries for the two major days on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We had a terrific opening day of the carnival last Sunday, and this Sunday’s South Grafton Cup meeting looks like being another beauty, with a capacity field to line up in the main race,” Beattie said.

“Obviously Thursday’s Grafton Cup is going to be affected in some manner by the postponement of the Caloundra Cup to this Sunday, but you can’t change the weather.

“I wish the Sunshine Coast Turf Club all the best with their major races this weekend.”

. Provincial nominations for the main races at Grafton on Wednesday and Thursday are:


$200,000 LISTED RAMORNIE HCP (1206m)

Brudenell, Enterprise Pomme, Oakfield Duke (Kris Lees)

# Cecil Street Lad (Kristen Buchanan)

Dalaalaat (Nathan Doyle)

Kayobi (Sam Kavanagh)



Chevron, Fioprospero (Kristen Buchanan)

Pluckten (Damien Lane)

Irish Bliss (Nathan Doyle)

Rapt (Jason Deamer)

Shine Like It Does (Edward O’Rourke)



$200,000 LISTED GRAFTON CUP (2350m)

Luncies, Point King (Kris Lees)

Gulf Of Tomini (Kristen Buchanan)

Torrens (Marc Chevalier)



Brudenell (Kris Lees)

Delexo (Kristen Buchanan)

Mabel (Tracey Bartley)

Story John Curtis, July 11, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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