By Gary Harley
Talented Wyong three-year-old Calabasas is on trial for a tilt at the rich Provincial Championships series when he resumes in the 1200m Class 1 Handicap on the Beaumont Newcastle Track on Saturday.
The gelding has always shown above average talent and 12 months ago finished close up in the Black Opal Stakes in Canberra. Last preparation Calabasas had four starts and finished within half a length of the winner when runner-up in three of them. He was a beaten favourite in the Listed Dulcify Quality at Randwick last October and then went for a spell.
Calabasas has won two recent barrier trials at Gosford and he is well placed in Saturday’s race after trainer Kim Waugh booked 2 kilogram claiming apprentice Blaike McDougall.
Waugh was bullish about Calabasas’ prospects after acceptances on Thursday: “He is a very smart horse and he has come back well. I have been pleased with Calabasas’ two recent trials and he is ready to win first up.
"He has a tricky gait, but we will probably go back and the long straight is ideal. I have set Calabasas for the Provincial Championships series. There are four more qualifiers at Newcastle, Kembla Grange, Hawkesbury and Gosford, so if he runs OK on Saturday I will attempt to qualify him for the Final in one of those heats. I also have Annatime racing at Newcastle and she has struck form in recent starts at Gosford and Port Macquarie,” Waugh said.
The Randwick training partnership of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will send their promising mare Miss Elly May to Newcastle to contest the 1150 metre Benchmark 70 Handicap. A real speedster, the four-year-old ran her opposition off their legs in winning two of her three starts at Wyong and on the Beaumont track.
Frenchman Johan Victoire will replace Adam Hyeronimus aboard Miss Elly May with Hyeronimus flying to Melbourne to ride stablemate Ecuador in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
Local trainer Ben Smith is riding the crest of a wave with his gun dual Group 2-winning mare In Her Time and could be in the winner’s circle on the Beaumont track on Saturday. Smith will saddle up Sahara Strike in the opening event, the 2200 metre Class 1 and Maiden Handicap.
Premiership-winning jockey Jeff Penza will be aboard the five-year-old which has been building up to a win. Sahara Strike has been placed in all three starts this preparation and he was runner up behind Destination Tucson on this track last start.
Kris Lees only has two starters and both will be hard to beat. Serene Miss is on debut in the 1150m Fillies and Mares Maiden and her trial form suggests a bold showing first up. Clevanicc runs in the Colts and Geldings Maiden Plate 1300m. The three-year-old has had no luck in both his starts and will be well fancied.