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  • Provincial Racing NSW


WYONG trainer Damien Lane reached a career 300 winners, and Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft brought off a plunge which he admitted to being surprised about.

Lane reached the milestone at Scone on Sunday when Sparkingly ($4.20 favorite), with Jenny Duggan aboard, landed the Class 1 Handicap (900m).

Croft turned in an excellent performance to score first-up over 1400m at Newcastle on Saturday with well-backed Gallic Fox ($4.40) in the Provincial Class 1 Handicap.

Lane began training at his native Coonamble before later relocating to the Central Coast, and relaunching his career.

Sparkingly, a three-year-old by Sheer Talent, was having his 13th start and clinched his second victory after being placed at his three previous starts at Muswellbrook, Wellington and Parkes.

Duggan made her run on him after straightening and, after hitting the front, gamely held out Newcastle three-year-old filly Willingale’s determined finish.

Sparkingly won the Wellington Boot Prelude (1100m) at Coonamble as a two-year-old in March last year before finishing third to Everlong, then also trained at Wyong (by Kristen Buchanan), in the $200,000 Boot (1100m) at Wellington a fortnight later.

This was Lane’s 29th winner of the current season, continuing such a consistent run of success over the last eight years which has netted him 252 winners.

Long-standing Hawkesbury trainer Croft’s Gallic Fox, backed from double figure odds, finished close to the outside fence (the inside rail was out 11m) at Newcastle on a track downgraded several races earlier to a ‘Heavy 8’.

Ridden by Scone apprentice Braith Nock and having his first start since late February, the four-year-old edged out Newcastle’s Rapt ($3.30 favorite) and Wyong’s Let’s Go Johnny ($21).

“Gallic Fox likes the wet, and I was confident he was ready to run well,” Croft said on Sunday.

“But I surprised there was that much backing for him.

“I went through all the programs in the RacingNSW calendar, and sorted this race out as being the most suitable.”

Croft, who won his sixth race of the season and has 15 horses in work, prepared Gallic Fox for a first-up tilt on the back of 1000m barrier trial (won by last Wednesday’s first-up Canterbury winner Iron Man) at home on June 3.

He purchased the son of Foxwedge for $15,000 at the 2021 Inglis Classic yearling sale, and the gelding’s Newcastle victory boosted his earnings to just over $80,000.

Gallic Fox’s previous win was also at 1400m in a 3YO Maiden at home 12 months ago, and he has been placed on five occasions.

Croft took advantage of Nock’s provincial claim, and is suitably impressed with the young jockey.

“Braith rode Just A Brother for me a couple of times at Wyong and Hawkesbury earlier in the year,” he said.

“He is a good rider, and does exactly what you ask him to do.”

Newcastle trainers Kris Lees and Mark Minervini also were successful at their home track fixture.

Lees’ Oakfield Duke (Jean Van Overmeire) graduated to provincial grade and made it three wins on end in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (2370m) after Taree (1900m) and Coffs Harbour (2015m) victories; both on heavy tracks.

Minervini won his fourth race with a former Lees’ mare Star Impact (Aaron Bullock), who always travelled like a winner in the Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m).

As well as Lane’s 300th winner, master Newcastle trainer Paul Perry fittingly celebrated the 21st anniversary of his remarkable 2003 Royal Ascot deeds with Choisir by winning the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1300m) at Scone with $3.50 favorite Senshi, ridden by another rising apprentice Shae Wilkes.

Story John Curtis, June 23, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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