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  • Provincial Racing NSW


MASTER Newcastle trainer Paul Perry was rapt when he knew Sky Lab would jump from the outside barrier (16) in today’s $200,000 Listed Scone Cup (1600m).

“It was like drawing the rails barrier with any other horse,” Perry said.

“I knew Sky Lab wouldn’t get hung up near the inside, and have clear running in the straight.

“He’s been unlucky a few times before as he needs everything to go his way in the run.”

Perry produced a characteristic brilliant training performance to land the Big Dance Eligibility Cup with $31 outsider Sky Lab, who sustained a strong burst wide on the track to foil a confident plunge on heavily-backed $3.50 favorite Waterford.

The six-year-old had not raced since finishing eighth in the MM Trophy (2200m) at the Gold Coast on January 13 – which he won the previous year.

Perry prepared Sky Lab with two excellent trials at Wyong (April 23) and Newcastle (May 8), when partnered by Aaron Bullock both times.

He had been keen for Bullock to stay with the gelding at Scone, but when he wasn’t able to ride him at 57kg, Koby Jennings quickly arose as a replacement.

“I like Koby; he is an underrated jockey,” Perry said of his Cup winning rider.

“He is a strong as an ox.”

Jennings is about to farewell NSW racing to return to his native Victoria to continue his career.

Sky Lab’s six career victories have all been on different tracks (Newcastle, Wyong, Royal Randwick, Rosehill Gardens and the Gold Coast being the others), and the Scone success lifted his earnings beyond $1.4m.

A Brisbane winter carnival trip is now in the offing, with Perry to study the programs to source suitable races.

The internationally-successful trainer reckons he has won four Scone Cups over a lengthy period.

“I won it on the old track with Mighty Zephyr, and also with Sea Jester (Lenny Beasley) in 1999, and another chestnut whose name I can’t recall,” he said.

. A black eye has cost Hawkesbury sprinter Phearson a start in Saturday’s Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone metropolitan stand-alone meeting, but his trainer still has a number of good chances on the 10-race card.

“We discovered the injury about 3pm Thursday when Phearson was laying in his box,” Widdup said.

“He must have bumped his head somewhere. The eye was closed altogether, and we had to treat him.”

Widdup will run Short Shorts (Group 3 Dark Jewel Classic, 1400m), Left Field (Listed Denise’s Joy Stakes, 1100m), and Jedibeel and Fire Lane (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1100m).

Short Shorts is certainly deserving of a black type breakthrough. She was third in last year’s Dark Jewel, and led everywhere bar the post when pipped in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Crown (1300m) a fortnight ago.

“She came off a placing at the Gosford stand-alone last year when third in the Dark Jewel, and I feel the fortnight between races this time is better for her,” Widdup said.

“She has held her condition, and the drier the track at Scone the better for her.

“Left Field is an outsider in the Denise’s Joy, but I’m sure she has the ability to be a Saturday grade horse in town.

“It’s worth having a crack at a Listed race for three-year-old fillies to try to boost her value as a future broodmare.

“Jedibeel and Fire Lane are both in good form, and can run well.

“They worked together at home on Tuesday morning in the fog, and there was nothing between them.

“Jedibeel was terrific scoring first-up at Randwick on Anzac Day, and Fire Lane was good when runner-up at the Hawkesbury stand-alone and is going well.”

Fire Lane, the Max Lees Classic winner at Newcastle in 2022 on debut, is second emergency for the Denise’s Joy, but her trainer isn’t expecting her to gain a start.

Story John Curtis, May 17, 2024 - Pics Scone Race Club

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