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  • Provincial Racing NSW


BEN Smith had the Gosford RSL Belle Of The Turf Stakes in mind when he purchased a mare recently for his clients ML Racing (brothers-in-law Tory Lavalle and Tony Bertuccio).

The Kembla Grange trainer gave Arale’s owners an instant return when she won at the Canterbury night meeting on December 15, and another victory tomorrow in the Group 3 1600m feature would be the icing on the cake.

“I noticed Arale was for sale on A Trojan Bloodstock, and felt the Belle Of The Turf would be a perfect race for her,” Smith said today.

“The $28,400 she earned at Canterbury went a long way toward recouping her purchase price, and the $170,00 first prizemoney at Gosford along with a black type win adding to her value would be huge.

“The Belle Of The Turf is an off season feature now worth increased prizemoney at $300,000, and her style of racing is ideally suited to the Gosford track.

“Arale has done well since her Canterbury win, and is nice and bright this week.

“It’s also in her favour that she likes the wet, having been placed several times on soft ground and two of her wins were on heavy tracks.

“Any further rain beforehand would definitely be a help.”

Previously trained at Royal Randwick by Peter and Paul Snowden, who won three races (two at Hawkesbury and another at Kembla Grange) with the daughter of Foxwedge, Arale was ridden by Robyn Freeman in her Benchmark 72 Handicap (1550m) success at Canterbury 12 days ago.

Smith had no hesitation rewarding Freeman with the Gosford mount again as she seeks a Group 3 breakthrough (she won the 2012 Listed City Tatts Lightning at Royal Randwick on Famous Seamus).

“Robyn rides a lot of work for me, and her win on Arale was her first in town in ages,” he said.

“Her hard work is paying off, and she deserves the opportunity to stay with her to hopefully win the Belle Of The Turf.”

Trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace chose to run yesterday’s Caulfield winner Zenzella instead, and along with the withdrawal of Missy Moola, the field has been reduced to 10.

Arale has drawn barrier three, and this morning was a $10 chance with

Lekvarte (Tommy Berry) was a $4 favorite ahead of Kris Lees’ Australian Bloodstock mare Zoe’s Promise (Dylan Gibbons) at $4.80.

Both go into the race as last start winners; Lekvarte at Rosehill Gardens on December 2 and Zoe’s Promise at Randwick a week later.

Lekvarte is actually shooting for a hat-trick, and her trainer Joe Pride his fourth Belle Of The Turf Stakes.

He scored with Ammirata (2016), Pecans (2017) and Threeood (2020).

Lees also has enjoyed success in Gosford’s feature fillies and mares’ event, scoring with Hidden Wonder in 2010.

As for Smith, he came closest to landing a Gosford feature with In Her Time, who was narrowly beaten by Zestful in a Provincial Championships Qualifier (1200m) in 2016.

Blinkers go back on Ita (Rachel King) in the Belle Of The Turf, whilst Rebel Rama has winkers off and will race in a cross-over nose band.

Provincial trainers are strongly represented, with Newcastle’s Paul Perry (Bakerloo), Wyong’s Kristen Buchanan (Street Candi) and Smith’s fellow Kembla Grange trainer Ross McConville (Burning Need) all having runners.

. Apprentice Zac Wadick, who has now joined the stable of leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup, has picked up the mount on locally-trained Diamond Diesel in the Inglis Malcolm Cusick Stakes (a 1200m Class 4 Handicap).

When Widdup withdrew Akaka Falls (who raced at Wyong last Saturday), trainer Adam Duggan took advantage of Wadick’s 3kg claim to offset last start Canterbury winner and $3.30 favorite Diamond Diesel’s 61kg topweight. Six scratchings have lessened the Cusick line-up to 10.

The $200,000 Listed Sneddon Bros. Gosford Guineas (1200m) is another highlight, with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s Royal Tribute (Adam Hyeronimus) a dominant $2.70 favoriteStory John Curtis, December 27, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos

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