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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KEMBLA GRANGE’s strong Epsom Handicap fancy Hope In Your Heart will be reunited with Melbourne ace Craig Williams at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

In confirming Williams’ booking for the $1.5m Group 1 Epsom (1600m), trainer Kerry Parker also announced his talented mare will race in blinkers for the first time.

Hope In Your Heart is currently joint second favorite with Fangirl at $8 with for the feature Randwick mile. Pericles is the $6 favorite.

Williams, who has ridden 74 Group 1 winners, won last year’s Doncaster Mile at Randwick on Mr Brightside, but has never won an Epsom.

He has partnered Hope In Your Heart once previously, and won the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600) over the Epsom course on October 15 last year; the same day he landed the $15m The Everest on Giga Kick.

That was the mare’s third win on end. She had been successful in both a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 27 and Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m) at Newcastle on September 16.

After winning the Angst, Hope In Your Heart was a close fourth (from 14th at the 400m) to I Wish I Win in the $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill before another close defeat when beaten only a half-length by Riodini in her home track feature, the $1m The Gong (1600m).

Tim Clark was aboard the mare in her Rosehill and Newcastle victories, and also when she won the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) against her own sex first-up at Randwick in February, and had first refusal of the Epsom mount.

“Tim has an obligation to the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable, for whom, he does a lot of riding, and was committed to Hoo Ya Mal,” Parker said this morning.

“I had Craig on standby and booked him, and then Tim got back to me a couple of days later to say Hoo Ya Mal wasn’t running in the Epsom, and he will now probably ride stablemate Converge.”

Parker is not concerned at all that his mare is tackling the ‘metric mile’ second up after a strong-finishing third to Epsom favorite Pericles in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 2.

“She would have won the Tramway if that race had been 1600m, and subsequently had a nice tick-over trial at Rosehill last Tuesday over 1030m,” he said.

Hope In Your Heart trialled in blinkers, and will race in them in the Epsom.

“It was evident last preparation that she hit a flat spot in her races when they sprinted,” Parker said.

“Hopefully the Epsom draws a big field (only 10 ran last year) and there is plenty of pressure on up front, which will suit our mare.”

Meanwhile, it’s all systems go with Parker’s comeback champ Think It Over for the $5m King Charles III Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on October 14.

“He came through his win in the 7 Stakes (1600m) at Randwick last Saturday week really well, and will trial at Rosehill next Tuesday (October 3),” Parker said.

Think It Over is currently at $9 for the King Charles, with dual Doncaster Mile winner Mr Brightside, unbeaten in all three Melbourne starts this campaign, the $2.50 favorite.

. Fellow Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price and Joe Ible were winners at their home meeting last Saturday.

The Price father and son team landed the opening event, the CG&E Maiden Handicap (1400m) with Monte Maximus (Grant Buckley), and Ible the Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) with former Victorian Big Apple (Louise Day).

Monte Maximus, a three-year-old by Invader, finished strongly at only his fifth start, whilst Big Apple, having his first start for his new stable, only narrowly defeated another Kembla Grange-trained runner, Ross McConville’s C’mon Mate, but was brave with 61kg, conceding the runner-up a tidy 5kg.

Ible almost clinched a double with his only two runners at the meeting. Lightly-raced Jinsoku (Day) was run down only in the last few strides by debutant It’sacircus (Keagan Latham)in the Midway Maiden Plate (1200m).

Newcastle trainers Jason Deamer and Paul Perry didn’t leave yesterday’s Taree meeting empty-handed either.

Deamer took the Maiden Plate (1005m) with $1.35 hotpot Drums Of War (Andrew Gibbons), and Perry both the Maiden Handicap (1308m) with Edge Of Midnight (Wyong apprentice Anna Roper) and Benchmark 58 Handicap (1408m) with Senshi (Newcastle apprentice Camille Houlgatte).

*Words John Curtis, September 25, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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