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  • Provincial Racing NSW


THERESA Bateup joked that it was “just a little bit easier” going to work yesterday.

The Kembla Grange trainer’s Thursday double at the Sapphire Coast, her most successful track, ended a winless run of more than four months.

She had endured a string of 19 minor placings since Victory At Omaha scored at Narromine on June 23.

Making it even more frustrating was that 12 of those placings were seconds.

All that was put behind on Thursday when Bateup celebrated a double with debutante Direct Fire ($3.20 favorite in the Class 1 Handicap, 1000m) and $21 chance Magic Alwyns in the Maiden Plate, 1200m.

It would have been even better if $1.45 favorite Tartana had also won instead of finishing second in the Maiden Handicap (1600m), but she wasn’t complaining.

“I could understand why Tartana was such a short-priced favorite, but it was never going to be easy,” Bateup said.

“She was backing up quickly after also finishing second at home last Saturday, and isn’t a big mare and had 59.5kg.

“A treble obviously would have been great, but it was such a relief to win two races and get back into the winning list.

“Our horses have been racing well without winning, and everyone kept telling me the luck will change soon.

“Every trainer has frustrating runs from time to time, and even when Direct Fire was on the fence in his race and trying to get through, I thought: ‘Bugger it, here’s another second’.

“Thankfully, Jess Taylor persevered and got him home.”

Bateup, who has been training for 20 years, had prepared 101 winners in the previous four seasons.

Not only has the Sapphire Coast track produced her most number of winners (72 so far), but she was also high in her praise of Jess Taylor.

“Jess has ridden the most number of winners for me (73), and we have a really good working relationship,” she said.

“She tries 110 per cent, and is a great educator of young horses.

“Jess lives three hours away, but makes the trip to help out at jumpouts and trials.

“She does a terrific job for our stable.”

Adding to Bateup’s overdue breakthrough was the fact that she supplied the first three placegetters in the 900m barrier trial after the last race.

Her return to the winner’s stall was certainly well earned.

“It’s a five-hour drive to the Sapphire Coast,” she said. “We left home at 7am because of the later start and didn’t get back until midnight.”

Having booted the “monkey off her back”, Bateup is hoping to parlay yesterday’s change of fortune into an even bigger result at Rosehill Gardens today.

She has Direct Fire’s older half-sister Crackalacka, who was first emergency and has secured a start in the $500,000 Four Pillars Midway (1500m) following Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini’s decision to bypass the race with New Republic because of his extreme outside draw.

“Crackalacka has had no luck at all in her three runs this campaign,” Bateup said.

“She raced wide and without cover when a close third to Burning Need in a Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1400m at her last start at Kembla Grange on October 21.

“The winner is a $12 chance tomorrow, and we are at $41 and have drawn much better.

“Apprentice Molly Bourke knows Crackalacka well, and her 3kg claim brings the mare’s weight down to 54kg.”

Bateup also has accepted with Crackalacka for Tuesday’s $3m The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick, but stressed tomorrow’s race is the priority.

“I have mentioned to the mare’s owners that I am considering backing her up, but that will depend on how she performs tomorrow and just as importantly how she comes through the race.”

Provincial trainers are strongly represented in the Four Pillars Midway, chasing the $282,000 first prize.

They are:

ROB & LUKE PRICE (Satness and Victory Lane);

ROSS McCONVILLE (Burning Need);

KRISTEN BUCHANAN (Oakfield Waratah, Oakfield Arrow and Epicus);

JASON DEAMER (Awesome Lad);


NATHAN DOYLE (Modern Millie).


*Story John Curtis, November 3, 2023 - Pic supplied*

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