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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TALENTED Wyong apprentice Anna Roper has “hit” a maiden century.

A double at Taree today – both for Wyong trainers – lifted her to 100 wins in a remarkable start to her career which began less than two years ago, and was punctuated by a freakish after-race accident which kept her out of the saddle for eight months.

Twenty-one-year-old Roper scored on Taking The Mikki ($2.60 favorite) in the Class 1 Handicap (1312m) for Kristen Buchanan, and $10 chance Emphatic Bel for fellow Wyong trainer Denim Wynen in another Class 1 Handicap (1007m); a heat of the annual Rising Star series for apprentices.

The young Central Coaster did what every jockey dreams of; riding a winner on debut when successful at Gundagai on April 3, 2022 on $6 chance Alpha Go for former Gosford trainer Tony Newing.

She tallied 15 in the last four months of the 2021-22 season, and then piled on the winners in not quite the first four months of the following season, chalking up 41 which put her at the top of the NSW apprentices’ premiership and also in the Top 5 in the State’s senior riding ranks.

Roper was dislodged from Stable Talk returning to the enclosure after riding him in a Class 1 Handicap (1415m) at Muswellbrook on November 25, 2022. A badly damaged right knee required surgery to repair the medial cruciate ligament.

She joined Wyong trainer Damien Lane in June last year to resurrect her career and made it 42 for the season when successful on Buchanan’s Penfold Park at a Saturday TAB meeting at Kempsey on July 29 at her first day’s riding back, and only days before the 2022-23 racing year closed.

Roper’s winning run might have been put on hold during her lengthy recovery, but she hasn’t messed about making up for lost time.

Today’s Taree double took her to 43 winners in just over five months of the current season and a career century – but not before she had to withstand a protest lodged on behalf of runner-up My Mum’s

Toyboy ($1.75) in the Rising star heat.

Along with Buchanan and Wynen, fellow Wyong trainer Brett Partelle also was successful at Taree in the Super Maiden Plate (1007) with Lara’s Laulet (2.60), who was having her first start for the stable.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees made it four provincial winners at the Taree meeting when $1.65 favorite Bestower landed the Maiden Handicap (1412m). The three-year-old Contributer filly was having only her second start after chasing home stablemate Imposant on debut on the Beaumont track on December 16.

. The new year brought a change of racing fortune – and nearly a first ever TAB double to savour - for Hawkesbury trainer Jason Clisby at Orange today.

And whilst he clinched a season breakthrough with Sarastrina ($5.50) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1610m), the day would have been so much bigger had stablemate Bondadosa (a $71 to $21 firmer) also won the following event, the Class 2 Handicap (1410m), instead of finishing second.

Sarastrina, the first horse Clisby bred from his mare Zaveena, with whom he won five races, gamely won a two-horse battle in the straight with Weave The Web ($6.50) after the mare’s rider Grant Buckley made a sweeping run from last before the turn.

The four-year-old daughter of Denman, who was her trainer’s previous winner when she landed a 140m Maiden Handicap at Mudgee in April last year at only her second start, was having her third start this preparation.

Clisby had hopes of getting the then three-year-old filly to the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm last year, but it didn’t work out.

“She is only small like her mother, and just wasn’t ready to keep going for the Oaks,” he said today.

“It was great to see her win another race.”

Clisby has retired Zaveena from breeding after she slipped to Star Turn, and then foaled a colt (now a weanling) by Casino Prince.

“I won’t breed from her again,” Clisby said. “The Casino Prince colt isn’t big either, but hopefully he will be okay.”

Bondadosa was ridden by inexperienced 4kg claiming apprentice Courtney Ferris (who was having only her ninth ride) in the Class 2 Handicap, restricted to junior jockeys being a heat of the Rising Star series.

“That’s the way it goes,” Clisby said. “You can’t expect 4kg claimers to have the strength of senior jockeys.”

Clisby has only three horses in work – the other being lightly-raced four-year-old Big Shooter, who hasn’t started since October – and has sold his roofing business.

“I need a break, and am planning to take 12 months off around May or June and travel around Australia,” he said.

“By the time I take off Big Shooter most likely will have finished his next campaign.”

Story John Curtis, January 9, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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