top of page
  • Provincial Racing NSW


BLAKE Ryan admits it’s a tall order for last start winner Kote to hump a huge weight and clinch back to back victories at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The four-year-old son of Newcastle’s international star Choisir is burdened with 63kg topweight in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1000m).

But the Hawkesbury trainer is on a roll, having made it two wins from as many starts with talented three-year-old Apic Run at Goulburn on Friday.

Winning a Class 1 straight from debuting successfully in a Maiden isn’t easy, much less going to a Class 2 Handicap (1000m).

However, Apic Run ($2.90 favorite) took it all in his stride with a combined display of pace and grit.

Ridden by Jeff Penza, the Snitzel gelding flew out of the stalls and was never headed.

When challenged strongly in the last 200m by $3.10 second favorite Stipendo, Apic Run would not surrender and beat off his rival to post his second win.

Ryan had also accepted with him at his home track at Hawkesbury on Thursday, but chose to return to Goulburn, where he won a Maiden Handicap (1000m) on May 7.

That form was confirmed when runner-up Starlight Girl easily disposed of her rivals over 900m at Queanbeyan last Sunday.

“Apic Run is a real trier,” Ryan said en route home from Goulburn.

“He gave 110 per cent, and had his head down when he left the track.

“Jeff (Penza) suits him because he keeps him busy.

“I wasn’t sure as he won his Maiden on a heavy track, and was back to soft ground and up in class.

“His work between the two runs was ordinary, as it was before he won his first race, but he produces on raceday.

“Apic Run has surprised me a bit.

“He definitely gained experience from his first start, and is still learning.”

Apic Run, raced by Ravenswood Bloodstock, provided Ryan with his eighth winner of the season, equalling the number he trained in 2021-22 in his first full season.

Now his attention turns to Randwick on Saturday, where Kote, who also races in the Ravenswood colours, lines up with this hefty impost.

Jason Collett, who won the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in October 2022 on Kote for his previous trainer Anthony Cummings, takes the mount.

“It was good to be able to get Jason,” Ryan said. “He was available when his original booking did not accept.”

Ryan says he has been really happy with Kote since he won the $200,000 Thunder Thousand (900m) at the Gosford meeting run at Newcastle a fortnight ago.

“I’m under no illusions this time though,” he said. “It’s a tall order with such a big weight in a race stacked with plenty of speed.

“He has drawn directly outside another Hawkesbury sprinter No Statement, and if that horse shows the pace we know he has, then hopefully Kote will be able to follow him across.

“I didn’t want to claim on him because he can go too fiercely, and isn’t an apprentice’s horse.”

Ryan also accepted with Kote for a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1110m) at Doomben on Saturday, but pulled the pin when he drew off the track.

“He has to run at the weekend as I’m keen to start him in the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (formerly June Stakes) over 1100m at Randwick in a fortnight,” he said.

“That’s a race I feel will really suit him with a lesser weight.”

The Benchmark 78 contains plenty of provincial contenders, with leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price have both Noble Soldier and Our Bellagio Miss.

Apprentice Angus Villiers claims 1.5kg on Noble Soldier, lessening his 62kg, and Sam Clipperton partners Our Bellagio Miss.

Newcastle’s Kris Lees and Nathan Doyle have Mo’s Crown (Dylan Gibbons) and Cripps Tonite (Chad Schofield), whilst Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup runs Fire Lane (Rory Hutchings), joining Ryan and Mike Van Gestel (No Statement).

Fellow Kembla Grange trainer Joe Ible has fourth emergency Xtra Gear, but needs three more withdrawals to gain a start.

Story John Curtis, May 24, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

13 views0 comments


bottom of page