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SCOTT Aspery will have a simple but nonetheless important message for apprentice Anna Roper before she is legged aboard his sole runner at Newcastle’s Boxing Day meeting. 

“Don’t let anyone at the barrier tighten the bit,” the Newcastle trainer will tell the young jockey for her ride on Annulus in the Vale Alan “Jock” Gollogly CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m) on the Beaumont track.

After a victory on his home track on the course proper in a Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap (1200m) on December 2, Annulus was never a factor 11 days later at Wyong in similar grade over 1300m when ninth to Linguee.

But there is at least one plausible explanation – and perhaps two!

“Annulus has a soft sensitive mouth and I always keep the bit a bit loose,” Aspery explained.

“I should have mentioned to Anna before the Wyong race about this, and one of the barrier staff must have thought it was too loose and tightened it.

“Anna told me afterwards that it restrained him, and he couldn’t go forward.

“For all that, he was beaten only three and a quarter lengths.

“I did mention what happened to RacingNSW stewards, and also Annulus had a superficial wound to his penis when he returned to the enclosure.

‘Something must have flicked up and hit him underneath, but there were only five or six drops of blood. It’s the first time I have seen anything such as that happen to a horse in a race.

“He was cleared again the following day, and is in good order for Boxing Day.

“Anna’s 3kg claim will drop his weight to 59kg, and he is back to a Benchmark 64.

“He is drawn awkwardly, but with some luck in running, I’m sure he will show that his last start was a forget run.”

Aspery has only two horses racing at present; Annulus and Uzziah, who ran fourth to fellow Newcastle representative Cripps Tonite in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) at Royal Randwick yesterday.

“That was only Uzziah’s second run this preparation, so he is heading in the right direction,” Aspery said.

Aspery purchased both now five-year-olds for a total of only $11,000 at the 2020 Adelaide yearling sale – and they have proven excellent buys.

Annulus has won four and been placed eight times from 23 starts for earnings of $147,640, and Uzziah has also won four races (including a Rosehill Gardens victory in June) and been placed six times from 16 starts for earnings of $165,080.

Aspery “splurged” $10,000 on a youngster at the Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast in January, so the now Pariah two-year-old (yet to be named and yet to race) has plenty to live up to if he is to match or better the performances of his stablemates.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup has two acceptors in the Davali Thoroughbreds Provincial 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m) – and will run both fillies on a “Soft 7” surface.

Heavelon Van Der Hoven rides Lizzie’s Gem, and apprentice Zac Wadick partners Pins And Needles. The former was also a Royal Randwick acceptor today, but has been withdrawn.

Lizzie’s Gem resumed when fourth at Canterbury on December 15, and connections are keen to get her to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions Maiden Plate (1400m) on January 6 if she isn’t successful today.

Nicconi filly Pins And Needles will race in blinkers first-up, and has had two nice trials to ready her for a resumption.

Wadick will officially join Widdup’s stable during the week. He is having a terrific season with 31 winners already after riding 40 last season.

. Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is chasing his first Summer Cup at Randwick’s Boxing Day meeting.

He brought Luncies back from two unsuccessful runs during the Melbourne spring carnival, and has especially set him for the Group 3 2000m event, with stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons to ride.

“Luncies is in great order,” Lees said. “He beat six rivals, with Dylan aboard, in a 1200m trial at Wyong on December 15, and I’m looking forward to him running well.”

Blinkers come off Luncies, who was a $10 chance with this morning.

Story John Curtis, December 25, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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