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  • Provincial Racing NSW


LAST season’s premier Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price aren’t resting on their laurels.

Far from it, in fact. The father and son team has hit the ground running in the new season with 13 winners already at a strike rate of 16.2 per cent.

So much so that they are currently equal third in the NSW provincial premiership with Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle on 10 wins, behind Sydney’s Michael Freedman (17) and Chris Waller (15).

The Price winners include doubles at the last two home meetings on October 7 (Candlelit and Our Gold Hope) and October 12 (Verbek and Headstock).

“We also had a really good start to the season about four years ago when we won plenty of races at Moruya,” Luke Price said today.

“But this is different and very pleasing getting the bulk of our winners so far at the provincials.

“A lot of hard work has gone into building up a really nice team of young horses on the back of Count De Rupee and Jamaea.

“It hasn’t happened overnight, but it’s certainly an exciting time at present.

“We’ve got 50 horses in work at our Kembla barns, and the aim now is to maintain that momentum and consistency.

“I’d be disappointed if we can’t do that as we’ve got a great bunch of three-year-olds.”

The Price’s current tally of 13 is nearly half their overall number of New South Wales winners (31) last season – a sure indication just how well the stable is going.

Not even the loss of Count De Rupee, who gave the Price boys their biggest triumph by winning the $1m The Gong at home in 2021 before tragically dying in a trackwork incident in August last year, and the retirement a few months ago of dual Group 2 winner Jamaea, who was subsequently sold to Yulong Investments as a broodmare for just over $1m, has halted Team Price’s progress.

They cleaned up at their home track in the season just gone, winning both the local and overall trainers’ premierships, and also getting Horse Of The Year honours with recent Royal Randwick Midway Handicap winner and Rosehill Gardens runner-up Satness.

That horse and stablemate Victory Lane are headed toward the $500,000 The Four Pillars Midway (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 4, and will have their final lead-ups at Randwick on Saturday.

Headwater four-year-old Headstock, who has won two of his last four starts at home, is another Randwick runner at the weekend, chasing a maiden city success at his first attempt.

The Price boys also have their sights on winning another $1m The Gong – to be run at Kembla Grange on November 25 – with stable pin-up Cuban Royale.

The veteran has been an absolute gem. He has won nine races and been placed 16 times from 68 starts, and earned just over three quarters of a million dollars.

“We’ve got a couple of options preparing him for The Gong, and just have to sort out the best way to go about it,” Price said.

“He has been nominated for both Randwick and Caulfield on Saturday, but we could also trial him and run at Flemington on Derby day (November 4; the same day as The Four Pillars at Rosehill), then come back home for The Gong.”

There was certainly no shortage of celebrations when Count De Rupee, with Brock Ryan aboard, scorched home on his home track two years ago.

But it’s a pretty sure bet they will be even wilder if a remarkable nine-year-old gelding provides the stable with its second success in Illawarra Turf Club’s flagship event!

Last season’s national jockeys’ premiership winner Aaron Bullock rode five of the eight winners at Scone today.

He won on Beetson ($3.20), Custo ($1.75 favorite), Last Frontier ($2.80), Heika ($2.60 favorite), and Justfour ($4.20).

Bullock’s victory on Beetson was for Gosford trainer Kylie Gavenlock, whilst fellow Newcastle jockey Ash Morgan continued his brilliant early season form, scoring on Imran ($6.50) for Newcastle trainer Sam Kavanagh.

With 31.5 winners, Morgan is only a half-win behind Tyler Schiller in the State premiership. Bullock’s five-timer lifted him to fifth place with 29 wins.

Newcastle Gold Cup winner Military Mission has been penalised 0.5kg to 51kg for the $8m Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7 following his Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) win at Caulfield last Saturday.

The penalty lifted Military Mission to 33rd in order of entry (24 horses can start) ahead of the next round of acceptances on Tuesday.

*Story Frances O'Shea, October 16, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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