By Ray Hickson
A horse with some X-factor and a mare that’s been there before will form the backbone of leading Kembla Grange trainer Gwenda Markwell’s assault on the 2019 Provincial Championships.
Both Mandylion, who won the Kembla Grange heat last year at her fourth start before a midfield finish in the Final, and Archedemus trialled at Warwick Farm on Monday.
And it’s the lightly raced Archedemus, a 9.3 length winner last start at Kembla in December, that has sparked some excitement in the usually very reserved trainer.
“As long as he behaves himself in the barriers they will know he is there,’’ Markwell said.
“All the time I’ve been at Kembla I haven’t seen many win like that.
“It was impressive, the way he did it.’’
Archedemus wins his Warwick Farm trial on Monday
Markwell’s greatest worry about Archedemus is his penchant for rearing but he did everything right in winning his 1200m trial.
The five-year-old has won two of his four starts to date Markwell said he’ll likely contest his home track Qualifier on March 23.
Since her Provincial Championships campaign last year Mandylion has developed into a high class performer and snared a Group 3 placing in the spring running second in the Angst Stakes (1600m).
She had a quiet time in her 800m trial on Monday and Markwell said she’s coming up well for her second shot at the Championships.
“She just wants a bit of wet going and they will know she is there,’’ she said.
“She won a lead up race with not many starts and she’s a bigger, stronger mare.’’
Markwell stretched Mandylion out to 2000m in the spring in the Craven Plate and all three wins have come on soft or heavy tracks.
With over six weeks until the Kembla Grange Qualifier there is plenty of time for Markwell to uncover other contenders and she indicated Excelsior, who disappointed first-up at Rosehill last Saturday, may head to the opening Qualifier at Hawkesbury on February 24.
Mandylion, Archedemus and Excelsior are owned in the same interests and she said the Championships have been a target.
“The owner wants these horses to run in the Provincial Championships and he’s aimed at it for a long time and that’s what we are trying to do,’’ she said.
The $500,000 Polytrack Provincial Championships Final (1400m) will be run at Royal Randwick on Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day, April 13.