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  • Provincial Racing NSW


HE was close to being given away long before he even hit the racetrack.

That’s how his breeder and now trainer felt the first time he saw him because of his small stature.

Thankfully for Kembla Grange’s Ross McConville, he didn’t go ahead with his initial thoughts – and now South Of India is poised to come to town after reeling off four straight wins on provincial and country tracks.

A three-year-old son of Churchill and the Minnesota mare Snitzel, South Of India (named by a member of McConville’s staff) finished sixth on debut in a 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m) at Kembla Grange last year as a $31 chance before being spelled, and hasn’t been beaten since.

McConville has nominated South Of India for a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, and is seriously considering giving him an opportunity to show his wares in the city.

The gelding began his winning streak at Newcastle on January 11 in a 2 & 3YO Maiden Plate (900m), and 17 days later added a Class 1 Handicap (1000m) at Wyong to his record.

South Of India returned after a break to take a Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) at Hawkesbury on May 31 before trekking to Scone to again led throughout, this time in a Benchmark 82 Handicap (1000m) last Tuesday.

McConville races South Of India under his Tullimbar Pty Ltd banner, and also owned the three-year-old’s dam, whom the iconic late Kembla Grange trainer Gwenda Markwell won four races with (and the now 12-year-old mare also was placed on four occasions at Randwick).

“When I first saw South Of India, he was nearly a giveaway as he was so small,” McConville said.

“I decided to keep him, and he ran okay at his first start as a late two-year-old.

“He has gone ahead in leaps and bounds this season, and deserves his chance in town.”

South Of India is Minnesota’s third foal.

“Unfortunately her first foal (a colt by Dream Ahead) got an infection in a foot as a yearling,” McConville said.

“We tried our best to save him, but he had to be put down.

“Minnesota’s second foal Princeston was an Exosphere filly (the now four-year-old races as Princeston).

“She won a couple of races earlier in the season at Moruya, and has also been placed three times and is not far off coming back into work.”

Minnesota’s fourth foal is the two-year-old Magna Grecia gelding Donwon, who made his debut when a close third at $41 to Tiwi Girl in a 2YO Maiden Plate (900m) at Newcastle on May 25.

She subsequently foaled a now yearling filly by Hallowed Crown.

McConville, who took over training when Markwell passed away in October 2022 after bravely battling cancer, has prepared 17 winners so far this season, more than double his eight in his inaugural year in 2022-23.

“We’re not going too bad at all,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with our results this season, considering we have only 15 horses in work.”

Story John Curtis, June 17, 2024 - Pics

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