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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KRIS Lees is keeping his options open with exciting prospect Tavi Time.

The leading Newcastle trainer has nominated the lightly-raced four-year-old for three separate venues later in the week – and two of them carry eligibility for next year’s The Big Dance at Royal Randwick on November 5.

Tavi Time, a son of Tavistock, has been entered for the $75,000 Mudgee Cup (1600m) at Friday’s Showcase meeting, a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, and the $60,000 Armidale Cup (1900m) on Sunday.

With rain forecast in many areas, weather will play a determining factor where the gelding, who has won four of his only seven starts, goes.

“I will accept tomorrow (Wednesday) morning for both the Mudgee Cup and the Benchmark 78 at Rosehill,” Lees said this afternoon.

“Armidale acceptances are not due until Thursday morning.

“At this stage, I’m keeping all options open and not really sure where we will start Tavi Time.”

After a luckless fresh run on the Kensington track on November 1, the gelding impressively won a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) at The Hunter metropolitan meeting on his home track 17 days later.

Tavi Time was given 59kg at Mudgee, 58.5kg at Rosehill and Armidale weights, of which he is amongst 25 entries, will be issued tomorrow.

The weather also will determine whether mudlark Acquitted joins Rustic Steel in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.

Sam Clipperton, who has partnered Rustic Steel in both his runs this preparation, again rides the inaugural 2022 The Big Dance winner, and stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons will be on Acquitted if he runs.

Rustic Steel has 57.5kg, and Acquitted, one of 17 on the 54kg limit, is assured of a start as he is 13th in order of ballot.

He was a strong-finishing first-up second to Ka Bling in a Benchmark 94 Handicap (1300m) at The Hunter meeting on a good surface, but excels on heavy ground, where he has won three of his four starts.

Lees intends to back up Rustic Steel in Saturday week’s $2m Group 2 The Ingham (1600m) – formerly Villiers Stakes – at Royal Randwick; the same course and distance of his Big Dance success.

Stablemate Classic Deel, a Doomben Benchmark 65 Handicap (2240m) winner on a heavy track last Saturday, won’t be an acceptor for Saturday’s $200,000 Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) at Rosehill.

. Hawkesbury trainer Marc Chevalier is keen to chase a second Christmas Cup with Torrens, but again the weather will be a major factor as to whether the seven-year-old lines up.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with how Torrens has done since his last run at Newcastle,” Chevalier said this afternoon.

“But I probably won’t run him if the track becomes heavy.

“He pulled a muscle on heavy ground in the Chairman’s Quality (2600m) at Randwick in April, and I couldn’t run him in the Sydney Cup (3200m) there a week later.”

Chevalier confirmed Jenny Duggan, who has ridden the seven-year-old stallion at his last three starts, will be on board again if the stallion goes to the post.

Torrens ran fourth to Land Legend in the $500,000 ATC St Leger (2600m) at Randwick on October 14, and was narrowly beaten by Stroke Of Luck in The Beauford (2300m) at Newcastle on November 18.

Josh Parr was the rider when Torrens gave the trainer his first black type success in last year’s Christmas Cup, when it was run at Randwick.

“Saturday’s race most likely will be the horse’s last run this time in work,” Chevalier said.

“Torrens’ Singapore owner at this stage is looking to send him to stud next season.”

*Story John Curtis, November 28, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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