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  • Provincial Racing NSW


FRONT-RUNNER Anna Roper will ride at all three remaining heats in a determined bid to win this season’s Rising Star Series.

Though she missed out on the chance to substantially add more points when her mount Off Da Hizzle was withdrawn from today’s 13th heat at Goulburn, the talented 21-year-old apprentice is a confirmed starter in the 14th heat on the Kensington track in Sydney tomorrow, along with Dubbo on Monday and Taree on Friday week.

Roper currently has 27 points, three ahead of Kembla Grange apprentice Olivia Chambers, who was successful at Goulburn on Super Norwest ($4.80) for local trainer Matt Dale.

Victory in the annual series would be a real feather in her cap, given she returned to riding only six months ago after a blazing start to her career was halted by a freakish accident returning to the enclosure following a race at Muswellbrook in late November, 2022.

She had reeled off 56 winners in eight months that year after making a winning debut on Alpha Go at Gundagai.

After eight months on the sidelines and with a new master, Wyong trainer Damien Lane, Roper got straight back into winning mode at her first day back, scoring on fellow Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan’s Penfold Park at Kempsey on July 29 last year.

She hasn’t looked back, and has tallied a further 51 winners this season (including a home track double last Sunday on Lane’s Pluckten and Gosford trainer Kylie Gavenlock’s Tina’s Rock) to take her overall career number to 108.

Such has been Roper’s brilliant return that she leads the State apprentice’s premiership, three ahead of last season’s Sydney champion Zac Lloyd.

“Anna continues to work hard,” Lane said today.

“Whilst she was planning to go to Goulburn today before her mount was scratched, she still rode work at Wyong and then drove to Gosford and also rode work there.

“Anna rides Desiah for Ciaron Maher in the next heat on the Kensington track tomorrow, and is definitely going to Dubbo on Monday and Taree the following Friday for the last two heats.”

Roper’s closest Rising Star rivals Olivia Chambers (Battlefield for Hawkesbury trainer Matt Vella), Amy McLucas (Disney Castle for Chris Waller), and Zac Wadick (Pins And Needles for his master, leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup) also will be in action against her in the 1250m Benchmark 64 Handicap at the Kensington meeting.

Roper has an excellent record in this season’s Rising Star Series.

She has had six rides for two wins (Emphatic Bel at Taree on January 9 and Magic Stella at Queanbeyan last Tuesday; both for Wyong trainer Denim Wynen), and two seconds.

Roper is seeking to become the fourth winner of her sex in the last five runnings of the series.

Jenny Duggan was successful in 2019 and 2022, and Mikayla Weir in 2021 (no winner was declared in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Meanwhile, Lane has decided to spell his debut Gosford New Year’s Eve winner Dize, who was subsequently beaten but still finished a close third at Muswellbrook on January 15.

“Dize ran well at Muswellbrook, but had come to the end of her campaign,” he said.

“I’m sure the break will do her good, and looking ahead I’m encouraged by the fact that the second and third placegetters (Santasia and Still Alice) at Gosford both won their next starts.”

The current points score is:

Anna Roper 27

Olivia Chambers 24

Amy McLucas 22

Zac Wadick 21

Ben Osmond 20

Story John Curtis, January 30 - Pics Bradley Photos

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