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  • Provincial Racing NSW


NEWCASTLE trainer Jay Hopkins is in line for his maiden Group 1 runner.

Hopkins’ lightly-raced three-year-old Sonofdec raced himself into contention for Saturday week’s Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm with an authoritative performance at Scone yesterday.

Boosting his record to four wins from only seven starts, Sonofdec ($8) trounced his rivals in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1700m).

Hopkins admitted jumping to the 2400m of the $1m classic might be too quick, but at the same time said he knew the gelding’s owners were keen to have a crack at the race.

“The Brisbane carnival programming has been moved around a bit, and the Derby has come up earlier than usual,” he said.

“Sonofdec appears to have pulled up well, and I put him in the paddock his morning at our property at Lovedale in the Hunter Valley,” Hopkins said on Sunday.

“Provided he continues to do well, the Derby is a real possibility as he is only three once.

“If we go, Ash Morgan will have first refusal of the ride.

“He has been aboard in three of his four wins, including Scone, and comes in to Broadmeadow to ride him work.”

Morgan is easily Hopkins’ most successful jockey, riding eight of the trainer’s 28 winners to date.


uch is the uncertainty of racing that Hopkins trains two horses out of the same mare – and their racing pattern is indeed contrasting.

“Sonofdec’s older half-brother Super Freds (by Super One) can’t get past 1000m,” Hopkins said.

“Sonofdec (by dual Group 1 winner Kermadec) is the opposite. He is a stayer and potentially the best horse I have had since Got Unders.

“Dave Hayman was in a couple of horses with Gary Portelli, including Imperial Rule, and bred both Super Freds and Sonofdec.”

Imperial Rule, a daughter of noted staying sire High Chaparral, won only one race – a 1000m Maiden Handicap at Orange in 2015.

Her mating with Kermadec has obviously been instrumental in Sonofdec showing middle-distance prowess.

A paddock accident ruled the gelding out of any racing as a two-year-old, and he didn’t begin his career until November 21 last year when sixth in a 1200m Maiden Handicap at Newcastle.

After winning his next two starts at Coffs Harbour (1405m) and Tuncurry (1600m), Hopkins took him north for the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m) at Eagle Farm in December.

However, he failed to finish; his rider Martin Haley easing him down from the 300m when concerned with the gelding’s action.

“Sonofdec trotted up fine afterwards,” Hopkins. “The race was delayed for quite some time because of a storm, and he wasn’t comfortable on the track and didn’t stretch out.

“We gave him a break after the Grand Prix, and he has kept improving since coming back into work. He’s a nice horse.”

Hopkins’ now retired 14-year-old Got Unders, with whom he won the 2017 Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at home after finishing second to Happy Clapper in the Group 3 Newcastle Stakes (1400m) earlier in the year, is hale and hearty in retirement at the trainer’s Hunter Valley property.

. Whilst Hopkins was the sole provincial trainer to strike a blow at the Scone metropolitan stand-alone meeting, such wasn’t the case at the corresponding Kembla Grange meeting.

Wyong trainer Sara Ryan won the first two races with New Forest ($2 favorite) and Aix En Provence ($4.40), and her Wyong compatriot John Cooper also scored with $31 outsider Hay Pearl.

Kembla Grange trainer Ben Smith landed the Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap (1200m) with Herb ($4 favorite).

Jockey Grant Buckley, who rode the Ryan pair, actually won the first three races as he was also successful on $2.20 favorite Divine Vicky for Matt Smith.

Story John Curtis, May 19, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos


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