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SMITH’S FIRST TREBLE LEADS KEMBLA BONANZA FOR LOCAL TRAINERS


BEN Smith led the way with a first ever treble as local trainers dominated their home track meeting yesterday on the eve of Kembla Grange’s biggest meeting of the year.

Smith’s trio (West Of Dalby, Whisky Kingdom and Herb - pictured) along with leading local trainers Rob and Luke Price’s double (Noble Attack and Sweet Dixie) and a special moment for recent recruit Mitch Beer (who won his first race at his new base with This Is The Moment) gave Kembla trainers six of the eight races.

Back from a luckless Melbourne spring campaign, Smith was pleased to get back into the winning list with West Of Dalby ($4.40 in the F&M Class 1 Handicap, 1200m), Whisky Wisdom ($3 favorite in the 3YO & Up Class 1 Handicap, 1600m), and Herb ($3.30 favorite in the Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400m).

Brock Ryan teamed with Smith to provide him with his inaugural treble, boosting his number of career winners to 82.

The former Newcastle trainer resurrected his career at his new base 12 months ago after an enforced lengthy time away from the industry.

“I’ve had a few doubles, but it was great to get a treble at home,” Smith said this morning.

“The guys (ML Racing) were thrilled with the results.

“Two of our winners, West Of Dalby and Whisky Wisdom, raced well enough without winning in strong company in Melbourne, and I wanted to get them home to give them a ‘kill’ and confidence boosters.

“Provided West Of Dalby and Herb do well during the week, there’s every likelihood of them backing up on Saturday in supporting races at The Gong meeting.”

Smith has a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) earmarked for Herb, who made the Provincial-Midway Championships Final at Royal Randwick earlier in the year, and a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m) for West Of Dalby against her own sex.

Smith was at Newcastle yesterday for The Hunter meeting where he saddled Vieste (8th) and Mah Ali (9th) in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m), and is sending both fillies for a spell.

Last season’s leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price continued their outstanding start to the new season, scoring with $9 chance Noble Attack in the CG&E Class 1 Handicap (1200m) and $61 bolter Sweet Dixie in the Super Maiden Handicap (1600m).

Keagan Latham rode Noble Attack, and Irish expat Robbie Downey partnered Sweet Dixie, and also another outsider This Is The Moment ($26) for Mitch Beer in the CG&E Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Noble Attack gamely won his second race (he has been placed eight times) from 18 starts, whilst Sweet Dixie was having only her second start and appreciated stepping up to 1600m.

The Epaulette filly’s first prize of $39,650 gave a brilliant return on her $6000 purchase price as a weanling two years ago.

The Price boys have now prepared 11 winners at their home track since the beginning of August, and have a commanding nine-win lead in the local trainers’ premiership, and maintained their spot at the top of the All Trainers’ premiership over Sydney maestro Chris Waller, who didn’t miss out, scoring with La Seule ($15), a daughter of Kementari, in the F&M Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Albury trainer Mitch Beer, who has recently opened a second stable at Kembla Grange to have a base closer to Sydney, broke through with Toronado four-year-old This Is The Moment.

A 2021 $60,000 Melbourne Premier yearling sale graduate, the gelding was having only his fifth start and was resuming after placings at Wagga (twice) and Narrandera in June and July.

He finished with a determined burst to overhaul Parade Ground ($4.60) and Lone Force ($4) in the shadows of the post.

*Story John Curtis, November 18, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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