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  • Provincial Racing NSW


LUCK deserted Brad Widdup at Gosford yesterday, but he is poised to turn things around when Kembla Grange stages the fifth Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship Qualifier tomorrow.

The leading Hawkesbury trainer will rely on pre-post favorite Short Shorts (Alysha Collett) to join his home track heat winner Phearson in the $500,000 Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 8 after another stablemate The Poacher didn’t qualify but nonetheless was outstanding in finishing fourth in the 1200m Gosford heat, having to cover so much extra ground from the outside barrier.

And he is confident Short Shorts, who has drawn well at Kembla Grange, is ready to manage the 1400m first-up.

“Short Shorts has won twice when resuming at 1300m, and we have put a lot of work into her to have her ready to resume,” Widdup said.

“Her two trials have been excellent, and I’m expecting her to run really well.”

Widdup not only will be popular with favorite backers, but even more so at home if the four-year-old mare can win tomorrow.

His wife Milissa races Short Shorts in partnership with the daughter of Iffraaj’s breeder, New Zealander and family friend Mark Fraser-Campin.

Short Shorts has won four of her 12 starts, and earned a tilt at this year’s series when she led throughout for a comprehensive Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m) victory at Rosehill Gardens in early November.

She ran second to another city winner Economics in a 1000m trial at home on February 21, then led and always travelled comfortably when edging out recent city winner Parisal in a 1080m heat on Randwick’s Polytrack on March 7.

Widdup certainly hasn’t given up hope of qualifying The Poacher for the Final - he is now on the third line of betting at $11 behind Gosford winner Kayobi ($4.50) and Kris Lees’ Loch Eagle ($8) – and will start him in the Wildcard (1400m) at Newcastle on March 30, where the placegetters clinch the final three spots in the April 8 feature.

Short Shorts, who heads the market at $4 for the Kembla Qualifier, is at $15 for the Final, along with a number of others including stablemates Phearson and Ausbred Flirt (the latter running at Rosehill Gardens tomorrow).

Newcastle’s Kris Lees, still without a qualifier after the first four heats, has five acceptors – Spangler (Darryl McLellan), Ting Tong (Ash Morgan), Baltic Coast (Aaron Bullock), Cloudland (Jeff Penza), and Terrameades (Koby Jennings).

Stewards have given permission for Bullock to ride a resuming Baltic Coast 1kg over, and Jennings to declare 0.5kg over on Terrameades.

“I’m not yet certain if I will run all five, but blinkers are going on Spangler,” Lees said.

“He was disappointing in the Hawkesbury heat on March 4, and hopefully they will help him improve.”

Spangler ($7 second favorite) is the highest rated of Lees’ five in latest betting.

Hawkesbury trainer Peter Green is leaning toward dodging the Kembla race with Star Mission ($26) in favour of a Rosehill start tomorrow in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1500m).

Star Mission finished fourth to Phearson in the Hawkesbury Qualifier on March 4, and Green doubts he will pursue a Provincial-Midway Championship path any further after she races tomorrow.

“This will be her 11th start since early November, and she has done a terrific job, winning three races,” he said.

“It might be time to give her a break after the weekend.”

Whilst Kembla Grange trainer Joe Ible was understandably disappointed with $21 chance Patrika Mist’s outside draw in tomorrow’s Qualifier, the stable has confirmed she will run in search of four wins on end.

“Patrika Mist worked really well on Tuesday morning, and this will be her first start on her home track,” stable spokesman Tim Delios said.

“She has a brilliant turn of foot at the end of her races, so hopefully she can get a decent run with cover.”

Patrika Mist’s hat-trick victories were at Canberra (1400m), Sapphire Coast and Gosford (both 1600m), and Mitchell Bell, who partnered her in her latest success on February 18, rides her again.

Wyong’s Kim Waugh, who has already qualified Newcastle winner True Crime for the Final, has both co-topweight Kingsheir (Brad Rawiller) and The Himalayas (Keagan Latham) in the Kembla Qualifier.

First reserve The Himalayas has secured a start, but also is an acceptor for the same Rosehill race as Star Mission tomorrow.

.Kembla Grange this morning was rated an improving “Soft 6”. The track received 114mm of rain in the past seven days, but nil in the last 24 hours and the forecast from now up until race time at 5.05pm is good. The rail is 4m out from the 1100m to the winning post, and 2m out for the remainder of the circuit.

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