By Ray Hickson
Leading Kembla Grange trainer Gwenda Markwell will be a force in the Provincial Championships Final at Randwick next month after emerging filly Mandylion posted an all the way win on her home track on Saturday.
The three-year-old, having just her fourth start, was taken straight to the lead by Jess Taylor and she showed determination to stave off the challengers in the $150,000 Qualifier over 1400m.
Markwell could have a second runner in the Final as she trains Pomelo, beaten favourite in last year’s Final, who is the highest rated fourth placegetter in the 2018 series.
With Kim Waugh’s Hawkesbury Qualifier winner Uptown Lad scratched, a spot has opened up in the $500,000 Final on April 14 and Pomelo is in the box seat.
Mandylion leads all the way to win the Provincial Championships Qualifier at Kembla Grange
Markwell said she wasn’t sure if Mandylion would train off after being asked so much in her first preparation but was full of praise after the win.
“She is a nice filly and she ticks every box,’’ Markwell said on Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen her get out of the box today. She came to the races and she felt so good, I was a bit worried during the week that it was all a bit quick.
“My biggest concern was a three-year-old filly competing against the older seasoned horses, it’s very hard for them to do that but now I know she is good.’’
Mandylion led all the way to down Old Man Sam for local trainer Mick Tubman while Kris Lees has another qualified with Tawfiq Boy claiming third place.
Winning jockey Jess Taylor said Mandylion is all heart and she was always confident of landing the prize when she was able to control.
“What a tough little filly. That’s just her way,’’ she said.
“It never really felt like it was in doubt. She kept giving and giving and I’m grateful to Gwenda for putting me on.
“I wasn’t worried about the track because she’d won on a soft track at Warwick Farm. She has that high cruising speed and she’s just so tough.’’
Mandylion firmed from $51 into $15 with TAB in the Final behind a clear favourite in Just Dreaming ($3.50). Old Man Sam is fated a $51 chance while Tawfiq Boy is at $26.
The final Provincial Championships Qualifier is held at Newcastle next Saturday.