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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KEMBLA Grange trainer Kerry Parker has been given the chance to chase his first Group 1 success in Brisbane in six years.

The withdrawal of Sydney filly Tutta La Vitta from the $700,000 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday secured first emergency Callistemon a berth in the capacity line-up.

The three-year-old daughter of Territories in fact will be Parker’s first starter in Brisbane since winning the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at that track six years ago with Dark Dream (Tim Clark).

Whilst Callistemon was first emergency, Parker always planned to send her to Brisbane in the hope she would make the field.

“I had made arrangements to float her north today in the off chance there was a scratching,” he said on Thursday morning.

“They’re only three once, and I didn’t want to be stuck at home with her and then find out she got a start.”

Callistemon, who was bred by her owner Mrs Warner, races in similar colours to the now deceased great Queensland sprinter Chief De Beers (whose 20 wins were all at Doomben even though he was trained across the road at Eagle Farm).

She has started only 12 times for two wins and four placings.

Those two wins were at her two first starts this campaign – over 900m and 1250m at Newcastle in April, when ridden by stable apprentice Jess Del Frari.

“Callistemon has raced without luck at her last few runs, including her latest seventh to Invincible Spy over 1800m at Randwick on May 25,” Parker said.

“She was three deep throughout, and was beaten just over two lengths.”

Callistemon prior to that race finished fourth to Oaks favorite Scarlet Oak in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at the Gosford stand-alone meeting (held at Newcastle) a fortnight earlier.

“Everything she has done this campaign suggests Callistemon will run the 2200m, and the timing is right,” Parker said.

“She is well, and deserves an opportunity to have a crack at a Group 1.

“I wish she had drawn a bit better, but the way Eagle Farm raced last Saturday, her wide barrier might not be such a disadvantage.”

Parker has booked the Brisbane-based 2021 Sydney Cup winning jockey Ron Stewart to ride Callistemon.

“I’m pretty sure Ron would have ridden for me many years back when he was based in Sydney before heading overseas,” he said.

Whilst Parker chases another Queensland Group 1, Hawkesbury trainer Marc Chevalier won’t have a debut Brisbane runner at the Eagle Farm meeting.

His stayer Torrens was an acceptor for both the Listed Lord Mayors Cup (2000m) at Royal Randwick, and Benchmark 90 Handicap (1810m) at Eagle Farm, and has been withdrawn from the latter.

“I spoke with Torrens’ Singapore owner on Thursday morning, and we have decided to stay here,” Chevalier said.

“But I’m hoping for better weather over the next couple of days to ensure Randwick (rated a Heavy 8 on Thursday following overnight rain) is no worse than slow.

“I won’t risk him again on a heavy track, but would like to run him in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday week.

“If we don’t start at Randwick, I have a fall-back plan to trial Torrens over 1030m at Rosehill on Tuesday.”

Louis Beuzelin will ride Torrens if he lines up at Randwick at the weekend.

Story John Curtis, June 6, 2024

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