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BARRY Lawrence has “hit the jackpot”, and hopes there is a $1m Final at Royal Randwick at the end of the rainbow!

What a story it will be if $700 buy Take The Jackpot can make the Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) on April 13 - and win it.

The long-standing Newcastle trainer revealed both the story behind his purchase of the gelding and his plan to have a crack at the Championships after Casino Prince five-year-old Take The Jackpot at Wyong today provided him with his first provincial winner in more than six years.

Darbies Bluegirl (Jess Taylor) won a Benchmark 66 Handicap (1300m) against her own sex at Newcastle on August 12, 2017.

With Kacie Adams aboard, Take The Jackpot ($11) bounded out of the outside barrier (10) in the Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1350m) and made every post a winner.

He gave a bold front-running display on a “Soft 6” surface, holding off a late surge from $3.30 favorite Mickey’s Medal, and was one of five provincial winners at the meeting, following on from four successes by Hawkesbury trainers at their home meeting yesterday.

Kembla Grange’s Kerry Parker scored with Tom Cruising ($3.30 favorite) in the Provincial Maiden Plate (1600m), Wyong’s Kristen Buchanan won the Class 1 Handicap (1600m) with Gardenzio ($4.20), and Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle and Paul Perry landed the Midway Class 1 Handicap (1200m) and Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) with Rush Hour ($3 favorite) and Angara ($4.20) respectively.

“That’s the way to ride him,” Lawrence said of Adams’ display on Take The Jackpot.

“You let him roll for the first 100m, and then he comes back to you.

“He was a Class 1 horse when he won today, and we’ll go back to Wyong in three weeks for another race, and then have a crack at the Provincial-Midway Championships.

“Take The Jackpot is really a 1600m-2000m horse and if he makes the Final and it’s wet in Sydney in April, which it often is, look out because he might take some catching.”

Lawrence purchased Take The Jackpot online at a Patinack Farm dispersal sale thorough Magic Millions in May, 2022.

“My wife Sheree comes from Casino, and I had tried unsuccessfully for ages to buy a horse by Casino Prince (Group 1 winner and five-times Group 1 placed)” he explained.

“This bloke had been broken in but hadn’t been handled in 12 months and was in a back paddock. He was as rough as guts, but was out of a good mare (Gherardini) who won four races in Queensland.

“There were around 100 horses who went through that sale, and Nathan Tinkler’s father Les told me afterwards that I hadn’t bought him, but stole him for only $700.”

Buying him was the easy part. Getting him going was a different story altogether.

“He was a rising four-year-old and a handful, and didn’t have his first start until the following April when fifth in a 900m Newcastle Maiden before placing over the same course a week later.

“Take The Jackpot wasn’t ready before then, and Kacie (Adams) did a terrific job helping me straighten him out.

“There was no rush anyway as my wife and myself own him, and we hadn’t paid much for him.”

“Kacie has ridden him in eight of his 10 starts, including his two wins (the first at Kempsey in a 1450m Maiden Plate in August last year).”

Lawrence replaced winkers with blinkers when Take The Jackpot resumed at Taree on February 2 and ran second to Sidenay (who won again at Tamworth on February 16) in a Class 1 Handicap (1312m).

“He was always going to need blinkers, but I wanted to educate him first before putting them on,” he said.

Lawrence has been training for nigh on four decades at Newcastle, and has four horses in work.

“I do it all myself and keep only a small team,” he said. “Take The Jackpot has now just over $56,000 from two wins and four placings, and is getting better all the time, so hopefully there is more to come.”

Perhaps even that $1m Final on Sydney racing’s biggest stage in April!

Story John Curtis, February 22, 2024 - Pics Steve Hart Photographics

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