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PETER SNOWDEN: HUNTER BREAKTHROUGH WOULD BE ICING ON THE CAKE


LOCAL Hall Of Famer Peter Snowden says a victory in Saturday’s $1m The Hunter would be the “icing on the cake”.

Born and raised at Scone and Inducted to the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall Of Fame in 2021, the successful Sydney trainer and his co-trainer son Paul will saddle two runners – Mazu (Nash Rawiller) and King Of Sparta (Chad Schofield) – in the 1300m feature.

And Team Snowden has made important gear changes on both horses in an all-out bid to clinch a breakthrough in Newcastle’s richest race.

Mazu, who assumed favoritism with TAB.com.au this afternoon at $4.60 – Far Too Easy and Coal Crusher are next at $5.50 - will race in a nose roll, whilst a cross-over nose band and pacifiers come off.

His stablemate King Of Sparta, a $6.50 fourth favorite, will race in a tongue tie.

The father and son combination has had success in feature races at this stand-alone metropolitan meeting since The Hunter was introduced to the Newcastle calendar in 2019, capturing two Max Lees 2YO Classics (Tilia Rose in 2019 and Russian Revolution in 2021), and last year’s Group 3 Spring Stakes with $19 chance Pierossa.

But so far The Hunter has eluded them with four runners in a three-year period, but all were double figure odds:

2019 – BRAVE SONG ($16) ran eighth to Savatiano;

2020 – BRAVE SONG ($41) ran 11th and SIGNORE FOX ($11) ran 12th to Sweet Deal;

2021 – SIGNORE FOX ($31) ran 5th to Lost And Running.

“This is the first time we have had real live chances to win The Hunter, and they have drawn good gates” Snowden said this morning.

“We enjoy taking horses to Newcastle, and have had good success at Broadmeadow.

“To win The Hunter on Saturday would be the icing on the cake.”

Snowden explained the reasons for the gear changes on the stablemates.

“Mazu is a Group 1 winner and obviously a very good horse, but he has been out of the winning list for some time even though he is racing well,” he said.

“We’re trying something a bit different by removing the cross-over nose band and pacifiers, and substituting a nose roll.

“I trialled him in the nose roll at Hawkesbury on Monday morning. Nash Rawiller rode him and said he reacted well to the change.

“King Of Sparta has been playing with his tongue a bit, and that’s why we decided to put a tongue tie on him.

“At least we know where his tongue will be during the race. Sometimes as horses get older, they need a change.”

Last year’s winner Vilana, who drew poorly, has been withdrawn from The Hunter to instead contest the $1m Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, where he has drawn the rails and Damien Oliver will ride him.

His absence leaves trainer James Cummings with $26 outsider Gravina (Zac Lloyd) as his sole Hunter representative, and opens the door for third emergency Much Much Better to run.

However, Wyong trainer Sara Ryan decided not to take up the option from the gelding’s outside barrier, and instead will run him in the Benchmark 94 Handicap over the same distance.

Wyong apprentice Anna Roper’s 3kg city claim will lessen the last start Royal Randwick winner’s weight to 57.5kg. He has drawn barrier seven in a field of 10.

Newcastle’s lone Hunter hope Rustic Steel (Sam Clipperton) will jump from the outside barrier in a field of 14, following I Am Me’s withdrawal.

She is joining Vilana and Hawkesbury’s Strait Acer in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.

. Blinkers go back on co-second favorite Coal Crusher (Tyler Schiller) in The Hunter. The gelding took up the running soon after the start of the 1300m Benchmark 88 12 months ago and won at $18 with 61kg.

He was runner-up in 900m and 1200m Maidens respectively in 2021 at his only two other starts on the Newcastle track.*Story John Curtis, November 16, 2023 - Pics supplied*

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