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  • Provincial Racing NSW


EDWARD Cummings hasn’t given up hope of qualifying Group 1 placegetter Strait Acer for the Provincial-Midway Championships Final.

The talented Hawkesbury four-year-old lost some caste for the $1m Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 13 when sixth as a $2.80 favorite to yesterday’s unlucky Group 2 Ajax Stakes runner-up Territory Express in the opening Qualifier (1400m) at Kembla Grange on February 29.

Strait Acer was favorite for the Final prior to that race, and was displaced by Newcastle’s Tavi Time (also runner-up at Rosehill Gardens yesterday in a Benchmark 88 Handicap, 1400m) following his lacklustre performance.

But Cummings is ready to give him another chance to qualify in either of the two latter races of the series.

“Strait Acer had a little freshen on the water walker after the Kembla Grange race before coming back into the stable,” he said.

“He will trial at Rosehill tomorrow morning, and provided he performs well, we will look at either the Wyong Qualifier or Wild Card at Newcastle.

“I feel it is the right way to head with him for now.”

Tommy Berry, who rode Strait Acer in the Kembla Grange Qualifier, told stewards afterwards that the gelding travelled well midfield in the early and middle stages and, though confident of his chances on the home turn, his mount did not finish off as well as expected and was somewhat disappointing.

He will again partner the winner of five races and $1m earner in the 1030m Open trial at Rosehill.

Cummings has the option of starting Strait Acer in the 1350m Qualifier at Wyong on Saturday week or 1400m Wild Card at Newcastle the following Wednesday.

The Wyong race is restricted to provincial-trained horses and provides the first two placegetters with entry into the Final, whereas the last Qualifier at Newcastle is for both eligible Midway and provincial horses, and affords all three placegetters a start 10 days later at Randwick.

Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup is also hoping to get the chance to qualify Ausbred Flirt for the Final.

He withdrew the mare from yesterday’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill with a vet certificate, but is optimistic she will be okay to contest one of the latter Qualifiers.

Widdup already has Hawkesbury Qualifier winner Short Shorts in the April 13 feature, and she will line up in the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) against her own sex at Rosehill on Saturday en route to the Final.

Stablemate Tintookie, who is in the best form of her career, will be nominated for both the Birthday Card and $1m Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m).

Tavi Time still maintains favoritism for the PMC Final with at $2.80, but Territory Express is now a clear $4.50 second favorite following his splendid performance in open company at Rosehill yesterday.

Shadows Of Love, Wyong trainer Kim Waugh’s Gosford Qualifier winner yesterday, is third favorite at $6, with Strait Acer at $9.

Tavi Time’s trainer Kris Lees increased his representation in the Final when Willinga Beast ran home solidly to finish second to Shadows Of Love, who was ridden closer to take advantage of an inside draw and was still good enough to post her fourth win from her last five starts.

Illawarra Turf Club will host another 1400m Qualifier for both Midway and provincial horses on Saturday before the 15-horse Final field is determined by results at Wyong a week later and Newcastle on April 3.

The eight horses already qualified for the Final (with their prices in brackets) are:

Tavi Time ($2.80)

Territory Express ($4.50)

Shadows Of Love ($6)

Short Shorts ($15)

Willaidow ($15)

Willinga Beast ($15)

Nosey Parker ($26)

Convincebility ($51)

Story John Curtis, March 17, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos


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