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  • Provincial Racing NSW


STRAIT Acer will be an even bigger hotpot if as expected second favorite Ausbred Flirt bypasses tomorrow’s opening Qualifier on the Provincial-Midway Championships at Kembla Grange.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup says the mare won’t run in the 1400m event unless there is a massive change in the weather, with very hot conditions currently forecast for the meeting.

“Ausbred Flirt’s owner isn’t keen to run her first-up in temperatures expected to reach the high 30s, and I’m happy with that especially after she suffered a bleeding attack last year,” Widdup said this morning.

“I’ve been really happy with her recent trials, and she will resume at either Randwick or Newcastle on Saturday if she comes out of the Kembla race.”

Widdup has accepted with Ausbred Flirt for the Group 2 Guy Walter Proven Thoroughbreds Stakes at Randwick, and also will accept in the morning for the second PMC Qualifier at Newcastle on Saturday.

Both are 1400m races, with the Guy Walter for fillies and mares, and the Newcastle race restricted to eligible provincial-trained horses.

McEvoy, who was booked for Ausbred Flirt at Kembla Grange, also has been booked for Randwick, whilst Alysha Collett will partner Ausbred Flirt if she goes to Newcastle, where the first two placegetters automatically secure places in the field for the first ever $1m Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 13 (Day 2 of The Championships).

Collett has been aboard the mare in two of her five wins, including a Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m) at Kembla Grange in December 2022 when a $1.26 favorite.

She has also partnered Ausbred Flirt in her two recent trials at Hawkesbury, including the latest 1030m heat when she defeated dual Group 3 winner Renaissance Woman.

Strait Acer (currently $2.60 favorite) and Ausbred Flirt ($4.80) are the only two horses under double figures for the Kembla opener.

Widdup also has Short Shorts in the Provincial-Midway Championships, but will keep her for his home Qualifier on Saturday week if Ausbred Flirt runs at Newcastle on Saturday.

four-year-old La Vesuvius has been withdrawn from the Kembla Qualifier, providing first emergency Killer Kerr with a start, but she will also be an absentee as she is running at Rosehill Gardens today.

“Killer Kerr drew awkwardly and, with the hot weather forecast, I felt it was best to race today,” Kembla Grange trainer Peter Green said.

“But I’m keen to have a crack at the Provincial-Midway Championships with her, and she will go to either the Hawkesbury heat on Saturday week or another Kembla Qualifier on March 23.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees won’t start Convincebility either. He won a 1000m Open trial on the Beaumont track this morning, and has been nominated for Saturday’s 1400m Qualifier at home.

Lees still has Cloudland (Dylan Gibbons), Basarwa (Josh Parr) and Mobstar (Sam Clipperton) engaged at Kembla, whilst another stablemate and current PMC Final second favorite Tavi Time will open his campaign at home on Saturday.

. The rail is in the True position for the Kembla Grange meeting, and racecourse manager Dave Anderson this morning posted a “Soft 5” rating.

Story John Curtis, February 28, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos


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