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“I put the mouthguard in, and ran the ball up”.

No, it wasn’t a rugby league game. Rather, experienced horseman Blake Ryan tackling the challenge of getting “problem child” Kote back into winning form.

And the Hawkesbury trainer achieved his goal at Newcastle Saturday stand-alone meeting transferred from Gosford.

Being a son of the now deceased international sprint ace Choisir, who did all his training with Paul Perry at Broadmeadow, it was fitting that a product of his second last group of foals should return to the winning list there for the first time since October, 2022.

Kote’s first three wins were all in Sydney for his breeder and former trainer Anthony Cummings; the latest being the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick.

He was put on the market after tailing out in the $1m Golden Eagle (1300m) there on October 23, and Ravenswood Bloodstock’s Phil Pollicina stepped in.

“Mr Pollicina secured him online for $195,000, and that was reduced when two of Kote’s owners Monique Arnetts and Wayne Fornari bought back into him,” Ryan explained last night.

“We gave him a good spell, and set about getting him going again.

“Kote has been the biggest challenge of my training career so far.

“He knows only two speeds; zero and 150.”

Ryan ran Kote at his home track’s Saturday stand-alone fixture a week earlier after winning a 1200m Wyong barrier trial on April 23 on heavy ground.

He zoomed across from his outside barrier to make the running into the straight before folding to finish 10th to Contemporary in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m).

“He paraded above himself, and I decided to back him up in a similar race over a shorter trip and take blinkers off him,” Ryan said.

“Everything worked out well when the track was heavy and the distance was shortened from 1000m to 900m.

“Kote drew the inside barrier this time, and the favorite Passeggiata didn’t lead as everyone expected her to.”

Brilliantly ridden by Koby Jennings after Ryan had unsuccessfully tried a number of other jockeys, Kote ($10) stayed near the inside and carried his 60.5kg topweight to victory from Passeggiata ($1.85) and Deep Rouge ($9).

The gelding’s $200,000 Thunder Thousand success earned a $109,000 first prize, repaying quite a chunk of the money outlaid to buy him – and at the same time capped a big week for his new trainer and Ravenswood Bloodstock.

The combination had also scored with debutante Apic Run at Goulburn last Tuesday.

Three of Kote’s four wins have been on his preferred heavy ground, and he was Ryan’s second metropolitan winner; his first being the former Ravenswood Bloodstock’s Momack (now racing in Queensland) at Rosehill Gardens on May 21, 2022.

Ryan now has a number of options with Kote, including a possible trip north of the border for sprint races at the Brisbane carnival.


Kembla Grange trainer Mitch Beer was also a Saturday winner – but not in his normal role.

He manages the syndicate which races the well-backed Hardware Lane ($4.20 favorite), who took the Bat Out Of Hell (1000m) at the Gold Coast meeting transferred to the Sunshine Coast.

Beer won four races with the much travelled five-year-old from his former Albury base – including a TAB Highway at Hawkesbury’s stand-alone meeting two years ago – and sent him north last year to Gold Coast trainer John Smerdon, looking for wet tracks.

Smerdon has now won a further four races with Hardware Lane, including yesterday’s ‘Heavy 10’ victory.

Story John Curtis, May 12, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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