The final qualifier of the Provincial Championship series run at Kembla Grange on Saturday proved a knockout blow for those few punters still standing after the previous eight races had seen just one favourite win and one other run a place.
The 1400-metre qualifier was won by the Paul Perry-trained filly La Jolie Fille, ridden by Jessica Taylor and coming off a last-start fourth in the Hawkesbury heat four weeks earlier.
It was a great ride by Taylor as she quickly had her mount settled just off the pace and near the fence from barrier 12 in the 16-horse field.
When called on for her effort in the straight, the filly dashed to the front and hit the line with a length to spare over the Kris Lees-trained Darleb with Liveinthefastlane just a head away in third for Robert and Luke Price.
The winner drifted from $14 to start at $19, the runner-up started at $26 and the third placegetter at $11, with the trifecta paying $2020.50 on the NSW TAB and a whopping $9931 on SuperTAB.
All three placegetters are qualified for Saturday week’s final.
Perry’s fellow Newcastle trainer Kris Lees went into Saturday’s qualifier with seven starters and with Darleb now qualified will have five runners in the $500,000 Provincial Championship Final (1400m) on April 17.
Lees has had two victories in the final since the race was first run in 2015, winning in 2016 with Danish Twist and 2018 with Serene Miss.
In addition to Darleb, he will have Cristal Breeze, Animate, Loch Lomond and Zeftrabrook in this year’s final. Perry will have two starters, with La Jolie Fille joining stablemate Pandano.
Despite the strong representation from Newcastle, it is Wyong mare Great News, trained by Kim Waugh, who retains favouritism for the final.
After qualifying with a brilliant first-up win in the Gosford qualifier, the four-year-old was gallant in defeat going down by just a head to Starspangled Rodeo in the 1400-metre benchmark 88 at Randwick last Saturday after a 300-metre duel up the straight.
The mare now has five wins and five placings from her 10 race starts.
Explaining why the four-year-old is so lightly raced, Waugh told media: “She’s always shown a lot of ability but because of her immaturity we were very patient and never pushed her at all.
“We kept giving her a bit of education then tipping her out. She didn’t have a gallop until she was three but we’re getting the results of that now because she’s developing into a very good mare.”
Meanwhile, Dubbo trainer Kody Nestor has warned punters against dismissing the chances of his galloper Activation in this Saturday’s $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final.
“If they put on a good tempo and he gets to the outside, he’ll be rushing home,” Nestor said. “He’ll be hard to beat. He’s a pretty good horse.
“At Randwick over 1400 metres, you need a horse that will run a mile (1600m) and he can do that.”
I mentioned above that just one favourite won at last Saturday’s Kembla meeting and that horse could be one to follow.
Three-year-old colt Adelaide’s Light, having his first start for Peter and Paul Snowden, opened at a prohibitive $1.30 but that didn’t stop punters jumping on and he started even shorter, at $1.28.
It was only a 1300-metre maiden, but the son of Cox Plate winner Adelaide just careered away from his rivals in the straight to score by 4¼ lengths under Mitchell Bell.
Show must go on
The very popular annual Lightning Ridge meeting set to be run last Saturday had to be abandoned due to heavy rain resulting in the track being deemed unsafe.
In a show of initiative however, the club’s committee decided to proceed with the meeting, minus the racing.
The bar was open, food was available, with fashions on the field and merchandise for sale.
From all reports, those who attended had a very enjoyable afternoon.
Those who had tickets but elected not to attend the “meeting” can get full refunds through the club.
Age shall not weary her
The racing did go ahead at Bourke on Sunday, where the feature Harry Hart Memorial Cup (1600m) saw the Connie Greig-trained nine-year-old Malibu Stacy romp away to a four-length win over Lucienne with Ben Shoof in third place.
The winner, winning her 12th race at start number 106, was ridden by Leandro Robeiro.
At the Mudgee meeting the same day Mikayla Weir followed up her double the previous day at Port Macquarie for trainer Paul Perry with another winning double.
The wins brought Weir’s tally for the season to 54, and put her in 16th position on the NSW premiership table.
Congratulations to the Muswellbrook Race Club on raising $23,000 in its flood-relief appeal for trainers in affected areas.
“The appeal started at the Muswellbrook Cup launch party and calcutta night at the Royal (Hotel) Muswellbrook. The money will help racing industry participants recover after the recent floods in the Mid North Coast, Moree and Hawkesbury regions,” said club general manager Duane Dowell.
Dowell thanked Sky Racing’s Dave Stanley and Luke Marlow for their help promoting the appeal.
Today (Friday) sees racing at Muswellbrook and Canberra, while tomorrow all eyes will be on the Country Championship Final at Randwick. Best of luck to all concerned.
Other meetings tomorrow will be at Cootamundra for the Cootamundra Picnic Cup (1400m) and at Hillston for the Hillston Cup (1770m).
Sunday is cup day at Gundagai, with the feature over 1800 metres.