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  • Provincial Racing NSW


A pre-dawn Sunday gallop outside normal track hours was the “secret” behind Gosford trainer Adam Duggan’s black type breakthrough.

Duggan won the postponed Listed Civic Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm last Wednesday with Hong Kong discard Diamond Diesel, and has publicly thanked racecourse manager Steve Scollard for allowing him to work the gelding at 5.45am last Sunday.

“Diamond Diesel only trotted at the track the previous morning as he was to have raced that afternoon at Royal Randwick,” Duggan said.

“Once Trainers’ Association boss Ritchie Callander let me know the race had been transferred to Warwick Farm, I got in touch with Steve.

“He graciously gave permission for the track to be opened on Sunday morning for us, and Chris O’Brien (former jockey) came and rode Diamond Diesel.

“It was as good a gallop as he had all preparation.

“We left the track with our tails up. Diamond Diesel hadn’t raced since winning at Randwick over 1400m on May 25, and I’ve got no doubt he would not have won the Civic but for the Sunday morning hitout.”

Diamond Diesel (Andrew Adkins), after being held up for clear running for some distance after straightening, powered home once in the clear to post his eighth victory – all for Duggan – and give him his 152nd career success.

As Diamond Diesel was stepping up into open company and had the minimum (53kg), Duggan understandably didn’t want to put up overweight and unsuccessfully tried a couple of jockeys before booking Adkins.

“Andrew won a race for me at home on Kopite at the New Year’s Eve meeting in 2015 when he was a 3kg claiming apprentice,” Duggan recalled.

“He also ran second on her 12 months later at Gosford when he was down to 1.5kg.

“Andrew has had a lot of bad luck in his career through no fault of his own. He is a very capable rider and importantly I knew he would ride Diamond Diesel at his correct weight.”

Duggan, who keeps a boutique stable of 14 horses, was given an opportunity a few years ago to train for the gelding’s owners TCR Racing (Derek Tam and Peter Coffey), courtesy of former Sydney trainer Mark Newnham, who relocated to Hong Kong last year.

“Mark had a full house in Sydney at the time, and recommended me,” Duggan said.

“My bloodstock agent Logan Salvador and myself went to look at eight horses at Kulnura, and had to choose two.

“Diamond Diesel was the last horse I saw, and liked him immediately. He is a lovely strong horse and very athletic.

“I picked him, along with Wonder Brahma, and felt he had the capacity to measure up to a Midway Handicap in Sydney. He has certainly exceeded those expectations.

“He won his first two starts for us at Gosford and Newcastle in July and August two years ago.

“Wonder Brahma had been placed a few times in Hong Kong and appealed as a country type horse. We won a couple of races with him at Taree and Port Macquarie toward the end of 2022.”

Diamond Diesel was a $65,000 Inglis Classic yearling sale purchase for Hawkes Racing in 2018 and, after winning a 900m trial at Rosehill Gardens in January 2020, was sent to Hong Kong where he ran seventh on debut at Sha Tin in June the following year.

He suffered a stress fracture to a shoulder, and came back to Australia.

Duggan says a key to Diamond Diesel’s career best form (he has won three of his past four starts and now earned just over $542,000) has been riding him patiently.

“Dylan Gibbons mentioned this when he came from second last on the turn in a field of eight to win at a Canterbury night meeting in mid-December,” Duggan said.

“Diamond Diesel is producing a brilliant turn of foot, as he showed in the Civic Stakes, when ridden quietly. He might be rising eight years of age, but has started only 21 times and is very sound.”

Duggan has now won a stack of races with TCR horses, and currently trains three for them.

“Border Control and Peak (also Hong Kong discards) are the others,” he said.

“We have won four races with Border Control, who is not far off being ready to trial, whilst a decision is yet to be made whether Peak comes back into work.

“He won three races in Australia, including one at Sandown as a three-year-old, and sustained a tendon injury in Hong Kong and never raced there.

“He was brought him out of retirement and hadn’t raced for nearly four years when he resumed at Warwick Farm in late January.

“We nearly won a Saturday Midway Handicap (1200m) with him at Rosehill in March when he drew the outside barrier and was beaten only a half length.”

. HOOFNOTE: Duggan’s sole black type placing before his maiden success at that level with Diamond Diesel, was in 2013 with his eight-times winner Frozen Rope, who started favorite and ran third in the Listed Parramatta Cup (2000m) on a heavy track.

He now has to decide where to go next with his stable star.

“I was thinking of taking Diamond Diesel north for the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at the Sunshine Coast, but that’s on Saturday and it’s really too quick a turnaround,” Duggan said.

“I will nominate him for the 1600m South Grafton Cup (which carries Big Dance eligibility) on July 14, and see what weight he gets.

“There is the Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill six days later if he is weighted out of the Grafton race.

“Whilst he is racing as well as he is at present, there seems no point turning him out.”

Story John Curtis, June 30, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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