Nick Mitchell has done it again! And will it be third time lucky for the Hawkesbury trainer?
The popular Provincial Championships is now in its third year – and Mitchell has qualified a finalist on each occasion. It is a tremendous achievement for a trainer who does not possess as big a team as many other provincial trainers.
Radical Impact finished 13th to Sure And Fast in the inaugural final in 2015 and Dream Lane finished fifth to Danish Twist last year.
Dream Lane’s first-up third to Kembla Grange-trained Pomelo in Saturday’s 1200m Gosford Qualifier – transferred from Wednesday to Rosehill Gardens because of the wet weather – has given Mitchell another shot at the $400,000 final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 8.
And understandably he is really looking forward to it: "I’ve got no doubt there is improvement in the mare,” Mitchell said. “She hadn’t trialled leading up to the race, but Lindsay Murphy (Australian Turf Club Executive Manager of Racecourses) kindly let me gallop Dream Lane with a mate on the grass at Rosehill recently.
“She has pulled up well and won’t race again before the April 8 final, but I might take her back to town and trial her at Randwick on March 31 to keep her up to the mark.”
Mitchell is confident Dream Lane will be very competitive in the final. “She has come back a stronger mare and at this stage I don’t think the field will be as strong as last year. There’s no Danish Twist there this time.”
Mitchell also has Belridge in Thursday’s $150,000 Kembla Qualifier (1400m), but doubts he will make the field. Thirty-seven horses have been nominated, and Belridge is well down the order with his Benchmark rating.
Hawkesbury now has three finalists; Shazee Lee and (first) and Reiby Rampart (third) qualifying at home on March 2.
Meanwhile, fellow Hawkesbury trainers Scott Singleton, Gerald Ryan, Mitchell Kearney and Jason Attard all notched victories last Friday – at Goulburn and Newcastle.
Singleton (Smokey’s Joy), Ryan (Partyhouse), and Kearney (Final Trick) were successful at Goulburn, and Attard won with Lady Veronique at the first entire meeting on Broadmeadow’s new course proper.
Lady Veronique’s victory in the 3YO & Upwards Maiden Handicap (1400m) was a great result for Hawkesbury, which provided the trifecta.
Lady Veronique’s stablemate Senorita De Vega finished third, and Mitch Newman’s Solo Song split the Attard pair.
Attard also finished third in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) with $26 shot Kellyville Flyer, and stablemate Sons Of John ($8) finished seventh.
Lady Veronique, Kellyville Flyer and Sons Of John are all from the wonderful producer Mountain Echo. The latter pair are both by Oratorio whilst Lady Veronique’s sire Raheeb won the 2008 Group 3 Cameron Handicap at Broadmeadow (the spring equivalent to autumn’s Newmarket).
Singleton made it 21 wins for the season when Smokey’s Joy ($7.50) clinched a tense finish to the Class 1 Handicap (1200m) at Goulburn.
In the process, he lifted his season earnings to $618,015 and put him well and truly in sight of his benchmark $648,715 last season. It is the third year in a row Singleton’s horses have earned in excess of $600,000.
Smokey Joy’s rider Jean Van Overmeire notched a double, having partnered Kearney’s Final Trick ($7) to an all-the-way victory in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1200m).
It was the mare’s third win from her last five starts and her fifth overall since joining Kearney’s stable. Pretty good considering she was winless from her first 20 starts and was headed for retirement before being purchased for only $1000.
Ryan’s Partyhouse ($1.75 favorite) broke through in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m), relishing a drop from city and provincial class.
The Northern Meteor filly had easily won an 803m Warwick Farm barrier trial on March 9, and rider Jay Ford got her home at Goulburn ahead of roughies Only Choice ($21) and Stars Galawe ($71).
Again, important gear changes were to the fore with two of the three Hawkesbury winners at Goulburn. Partyhouse raced minus blinkers and Final Trick raced without winkers.