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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TOPWEIGHT Cepheus’ withdrawal has given lightweight threat Loch Eagle a back door entry into today’s $1m The Gong at Kembla Grange.

Whilst leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees unfortunately was forced to scratch accomplished wet tracker Spangler from the 1600m feature yesterday, stablemate and second emergency Loch Eagle has secured a start.

Rival trainer Mathew Dunn opted to pull out Cepheus this morning, explaining there was no point running him under his 61kg as he isn’t comfortable on heavy ground.

Course manager Dave Anderson posted a “Heavy 8” rating, and Lees was happy to take up the option to run dual acceptor Loch Eagle (Reece Jones) in The Gong, and withdraw him from the Benchmark 88 Handicap over the same distance.

“Spangler wrenched a joint and will have to go for a break,” a disappointed Lees said.

“The wet conditions would have really suited him, but they won’t worry Loch Eagle either.

“He has won on both soft and heavy ground.

“Loch Eagle has trained on well since easily winning a 1500m Benchmark 88 Handicap at Royal Randwick earlier in the month, and is definitely a good replacement for Spangler with his light weight (52kg).

With Loch Eagle now making the field, there are two provincial representatives. Leading local trainers Rob and Luke Price have the oldest runner, nine-year-old Cuban Royale (Brock Ryan).

Lees has decided to resume Brudenell (Dylan Gibbons) in the main supporting race, the $300,000 The Warra (1000m), to give him the opportunity to build on his already excellent record (six wins from 11 starts).

Whilst he is guarded about the talented gelding’s inside draw on the heavy ground, six scratchings have lessened the size of the field to nine and helped ease his concern, and the talented four-year-old gelding is a winner on both soft and heavy ground.

Fellow Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer has scratched Hard To Say, who would have been chasing five wins in a row, from The Warra, leaving Mark Minervini’s last start Randwick winner Quick Tempo (Jason Collett) as the other provincial representative.

*Story John Curtis, November 25, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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