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  • Provincial Racing NSW


DAMIEN Lane can’t be accused of not having a sense of humour!

The Wyong trainer returned to his native Coonamble today for the annual Showcase meeting, and landed a double – with a bolter and a favorite.

But it was the race he craves to win – his hometown Cup –which his apprentice Anna Roper successfully did at her first attempt.

Whereas Lane’s $151 outsider Too Good To Be Tru (Wendy Peel) made the running before tiring to finish last, Roper produced a brilliant ride to land the $75,000 Cup (1600m) on $4 favorite Hollywood Hero for Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker.

Riding to instructions, she settled the gelding back in the field before bursting between runners in the straight to beat her former boss, Wyong trainer Tracey Bartlety’s mare Irish Kisses ($6).

“I’ve been trying to win the Coonamble Cup for 20 years, and Anna came out and wins it first go,” Lane joked afterwards.

Putting the seal on a successful comeback after being sidelined for eight months because of a serious knee injurysustained in an after-race mishap at Muswellbrook in November last year, Roper is making every post a winner after a brilliant start to her career (56 winners in the first eight months) was halted.

Hollywood Hero missed out in both the Bathurst and Dubbo Cups last month, but today’s win made him eligible for the $3m The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on November 7.

Lane landed the Super Maiden Handicap (1300m) with $61 roughie Bold Storm (Ben Looker) and the Class 2 Handicap (1100m) with $2 favorite Bare To Witness, who came from a seemingly impossible position to snatch victory on the line.

A promising three-year-old by Star Witness, he has now won three of his eight starts – and is unbeaten from two appearances this time in work.

“He did a good job after also coming from well back to score first-up at Dubbo only nine days ago, and then travelling home and coming back again today,” Lane said.

“It was a quick back-up, but a lot of his owners are from Coonamble, and that was the main reason we brought him out here.”

Roper partnered Bare To Witness as she did in his Dubbo triumph, and also won the Crystal Sprint (1200m) on Scone-trained Rajnish ($4), giving her the last three winners on the nine-race card.

Newcastle’s Kris Lees and Wyong’s Kim Waugh were both successful at today’s corresponding Hawkesbury fixture.

Lees’ Group 1 placegetter Pier Pressure ($1.30) shed her maiden status when she took the Provincial Maiden Plate (1400m) at her seventh start.

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, the three-year-old filly beat Hawkesbury trainer Steve O’Halloran’s Razella ($21). The winner’s stablemate Detoron ($12) was third at her first start since joining Lees’ team from Victoria.

Start number 13 wasn’t unlucky for Waugh’s Riley Park ($5.50), who landed the Maiden Handicap (1600m) after three previous placings.

Price doesn’t always matter!

Hawkesbury trainer Tommy Wong clinched his first winner of the season at Kembla Grange yesterday with a $3000 yearling buy, defeating the favored runner who cost $200,000 when sold in New Zealand.

Ridden by Grant Buckley, Desi Emperor ($8.50) clung on gamely to hold off $3 favorite The Englishman in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m).

The unplaced brigade included second favorite Matusalem($3.20), who cost $500,000 and beat only one runner home in the nine-horse field after sporting blinkers for the first time and over-racing.

Having his third run from a break, four-year-old Desi Emperor notched his fourth victory, lifting his earnings to nearly $90,000.

A nice return indeed on the meagre amount he brought online in May 2021.

“Desi Emperor’s original owner moved from Hong Kong to England, so I race the horse with some friends,” Wong said today.

“Three of his four wins have been at 1600m and the other at 1500m.

“He just got home yesterday, and I don’t think I will try him beyond that distance.”

Desi Emperor is a son of dual Caulfield winner Kobayashi (by I Am Invincible) from the unraced Artie Schiller mare A Little Blessed, and is her second foal.

He was initially listed for sale at the Gold Coast National yearling sale in 2021, but was withdrawn before subsequently changing hands online.

Wong is coming off his best ever season, preparing eight winners in 2022-23 with only a small team.

“I rent boxes at Hawkesbury, and can’t have any more than eight in work,” he explained.

“But I’ve got a farm at Grose Wold, and can give my horses a good foundation there before bringing them in to the stables.”

Wong’s success with Desi Emperor was the Hawkesbury training base’s 34th winner so far this season.

*Story John Curtis, October 8, 2023 - Pics

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