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  • Provincial Racing NSW


THERE’S no stopping Kembla Grange’s leading trainers Rob and Luke Price.

They have put together an enviable record of winning a race at each of the last three Gong meetings at home, with Victory Lane their latest yesterday.

Now the father and son team has set its sights on another major target – next autumn’s Provincial-Midway Championships.

Co-trainer Luke Price announced the plan after Victory Lane ($8) won the Midway Handicap (1400m) in an all-provincial finish, defeating Hawkesbury’s Jason and Lucy Attard’s Oh Golly Gosh ($19) and Kembla Grange’s Paul Murray’s Winning Point ($15).

Victory Lane gave the Price boys a hat-trick at their home track’s biggest meeting of the year, having won the $1m The Gong two years ago with the ill-fated Count De Rupee ($4.80 co-favorite), and a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m) last year with stable stalwart Cuban Royale ($31).

A $100,000 Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale graduate in 2021, Victory Lane (who races in the Count De Rupee colours) has now started 15 times for three wins and four placings, and his latest win lifted his earnings (including a BOBS bonus) to nearly $174,00.

Victory Lane responded to a gear change – he raced in visors – by gamely overhauling Oh Golly Gosh, who looked a certain winner when she dashed to what appeared an unassailable lead in the straight.

“He needed to get his confidence back,” Luke Price said. “He has drawn outside barriers in big fields at his last two Sydney runs after finishing second first-up in a 1300m Midway at Rosehill in September, and has had no luck.

“Victory Lane looks an ideal horse for the Provincial-Midway Championships. It’s 1400m and he can handle heavy tracks (he also won on a good surface).

“We will probably give him a break now, and get him ready for the series.”

Rob and Luke Price won last year’s Kembla Grange premiership, and have hit the ground running in the first four months of the new season. Victory Lane was their 12th local winner since August 1, putting them nine clear of closest rival Ben Smith in the local premiership, and the five points they amassed yesterday (Rebel Dean ran second at $14 in the Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1000m) lifted their points tally to 58 in the All Trainers’ premiership, 12 ahead of Sydney maestro Chris Waller.

Wyong’s Kim Waugh with F&M Benchmark 78 Handicap(1200m) victor Shadows Of Love ($3.70 favorite), and Tracey Bartley with Mabel ($4.60) in the 1000m Benchmark 78 Handicap, joined Team Price as provincial winners at The Gong meeting, and provincial trainers also cleaned up at the corresponding Gosford fixture, capturing six of the seven races.

In another all-provincial finish, Shadows Of Love finished best to defeat Ben Smith’s last start winner West Of Dalby ($5) and Team Attard’s Leandra ($4.60), whilst Mabel, having her first start since early September, bolted to a runaway victory.

At Gosford, Wyong trainers won four of the seven races.

Sara Ryan continued her great run, clinching a hat-trick with seven-year-old Vegas Outlaw ($2.50 favorite) in the Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m), Damien Lane scored with $16 chance Oakfield Eagle in the Super Maiden Handicap (1600m), Brett Partelle notched another success with veteran Commander Bell ($21) in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1900m), and Denim Wynen made it a Wyongfoursome when Magic Stella ($5.50) landed the Midway Maiden Plate (1200m).

Hawkesbury’s Brad Widdup and Newcastle’s Paul Perry were the two other successful provincial trainers.

Likeabomb ($6) made it two in a row when he overhauled Perry’s $1.45 hotpot Cosy Corner in the Class 1 Handicap (1200m), but the master Newcastle trainer wouldn’t be denied, continuing his stable’s great run by taking the closer, the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) with Par Five ($3.40).

Widdup recalled memories of his earlier working days with Darley/Godolphin as Likeabomb’s dam is the unraced Lonhromare Rainbow.

The Smart Missile three-year-old, whom Widdup trains for the Walker family from Yass, has won both his recent races on heavy ground, so his trainer won’t mind in the slightest if another heavy surface appears when he chases a hat-trick with the lightly-raced gelding.

. Newcastle trainer Sam Kavanagh put the seal on a terrific weekend for provincial trainers when he landed a double at his home track today with fancied runners.

Kavanagh won the 3YO & Up Maiden Handicap (900m) withy Spirit Of Storm ($2.60 favorite), and Jim O’Neill Memorial Provincial Maiden Plate (1300m) with Magnatear($2.20 favorite).

Ash Morgan rode the Kavanagh pair.

Spirit Of Storm, having only her third start and first since February, sprouted wings in the closing stages to score, whilst Magnatear was never in danger, and raced home more than four lengths clear.

*Story John Curtis, November 26, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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