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By Mark Brassel

MONDAY, 9th April 2018: Diamond Charlie has raced to the lead in the NSW Picnic Champion Series following his two-length win in the Cootamundra Picnic Cup (1400m) on Saturday. Ridden by Billy Owen, the $2.10 favourite defeated Oh What a Thief (Willie Pearson, $2.60) and Dream on Stan (Ricky Blewitt, $5).

Diamond Charlie (Billy Owen) in his Crookwell Picnic Cup win. Image by Bradley Photographers

The win elevated the horse to lead in the Series pointscore on 34 points and he is now five clear of Butterfly Sky with Spinning Dawn (28 points) in third position on the ladder.

Diamond Charlie's win also brought up a hat-trick for the gelding, having previously won the Crookwell and Yass Picnic Cups.

Layo Layo entered the scoring when she snared seven points for her victory in the Cootamundra Picnic Sprint (1100m).

The seven-year-old, also ridden by Billy Owen, had a length to spare after being sent out the $2.20 favourite.

Lightning Alert (Shannon Fogg, $2.50) was runner-up with Benno's Boy (Willie Pearson, $2.50) a long head away in third place.

TUESDAY, 16th JANUARY 2018: Cootamundra-based trainer Debbie Prest has had four of her horses move into contention for the NSW Picnic Champion Series following a successful afternoon at Orange picnics on the weekend. Prest had five runners and finished with a winner and four placings, although maiden performer One Eye Watching remains ineligible after finishing second in race 3 and is yet to break through (maidens do not qualify for the Final). Prest's Supreme Lyne (Ashley Boyd, $6) has been a model of consistency and was runner-up to The Revenant in race 4 (Class B Handicap, 1280m) - her third successive placing on the picnic circuit after a second at Gosford and a third at Trangie. Supreme Lyne is now equal seventh on the point score with 10 points. Damysus (Ashley Boyd, $21) went to five points after his third to Spinning Dawn in race 5 (Trophy Handicap, 1300m). The Prest stable finished with the quinella in the final race (Class B Hcp, 1600m) with Love 'N' Desire (Ashley Boyd, $4) defeating stablemate Tumbleweed (Katie Spalding, $4) by more than two lengths. Love 'N' Desire now sits on seven points with Tumbleweed on three.

SUNDAY, 14th JANUARY 2018: Nyngan trainer Rodney Robb is quietly assembling his troops to tackle the $50,000 NSW Picnic Champion Series Final run at Dubbo during the spring. The Series was staged for the first occasion last year and Robb snared the major prize, with Security Code and jockey Maddie Wright winning the Final from Black Fusion (Toby Lake for trainer Scott Spackman) and Kinda Tangy (Billy Owen; Neil Osborne). Robb has four horses in contention in 2018 with Rusty Motorbike leading the charge on 12 points, along with Mango Liston (8 points), Austin (7) and Rayne Park (4). Austin moved into the fray with an easy win in the recent Macquarie Picnic Cup at Trangie when ridden by Maddie Wright. The Series is again gathering momentum leading into the Final following a month’s hiatus during the Christmas-New Year period. Kinda Tangy continues to race well and earned three points for her minor placing in the Macquarie Picnic Cup. Connections are naturally hoping to go two spots better in this year’s Dubbo Final. The Real McCoy currently leads the NSW Picnic Champion Series with 20 points resulting from victories in the Mungery and Harden Cups last October. Ausbred Petal and Black Fusion are equal second on the table with 14 points, followed by Benno’s Boy (13), Rusty Motorbike (12), Mop the Floor (11), Ain’t She a Dane, Kinda Tangy, Mr De Niro, Unshinkable and Wide Eyed (10). Tough 10-year-old Double Halo, who finished fourth in last year’s Final at Dubbo at the $4.20 favourite, picked up his first points this season with a sound fourth to Austin at Trangie under 65kg. Double Halo has now had 103 starts for 15 wins and 27 placings for earnings topping the $250,000 mark.

WEDNESDAY, 11th OCTOBER 2017: Black Fusion ran right up to his excellent placing in TAB company at his previous start in the Cootamundra Cup, with victory in the Verandah Town Cup at Lockhart Showgrounds last Friday. The 8yo was sent out the $1.80 favourite and proved too strong with Toby Lake aboard, defeating Victorian Crown (Ricky Blewitt, $5) by half a length. The Scott Spackman-trained Black Fusion picked up 10 points in the Picnic Champion Series for the win and leaps up to equal third position. The following day saw Leslie Bryant's Unshinkable (Kath Bell-Pitomac, $8) claim the Open Trophy at Young-Burrangong picnics. The 6yo mare beat Manatassee (Samara Johnson, $3.50 favourite) by a neck, earning seven points and is also now on 10 points. Samara Johnson made amends in the following race by guiding Liabilityadjuster ($3 fav) home in the Burrangong Picnic Cup with Doug Gorrel's mare going to seven points. Runner-up was Malleable ($3.60) ridden by Toby Lake.

MONDAY, 4th OCTOBER 2017: 'Miss Consistency' Ausbred Petal has bolted from the gates in the 2017-18 NSW Picnic Champion Series and leads the point score with 14 points accumulated via the Come-by-Chance and Mungery picnic meetings. The Connie Greig-trained Ausbred Petal was second to Wide Eyed in the Come-by-Chance Sprint (1000m) before downing Raynes Park (trained by Rodney Robb) in the Don Barling Memorial (1000m) at Mungery. The five-year-old mare picked up seven points on each occasion. Robb's Rusty Motorbike (12 points) is running second following his win in the Come-by-Chance Picnic Cup (1400m) and a fourth to The Real McCoy in the Mungery Picnic Cup (1750m). Equal third are The Real McCoy (Kylie Kennedy) and Wide Eyed (Bryan Dixon) on 10 points and right on their hammer are Butterfly Sky (9 points), Mango Liston (8pts), Beau in Chains (7pts), Shilopath (6pts) and five-pointers Going Grey, Magnormous and Miss Emily.

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