Hawkesbury trainer Nick Mitchell is hoping it will be “third time lucky” at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Mitchell, seeking the biggest win of his career so far, has a runner in the $400,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) for the third year in succession. And he is confident highly consistent mare Dream Lane is his best chance to showcase his training skills on Day 2 of The Championships.
Hawkesbury has its strongest ever line-up in the Provincial Final, with leading trainer Scott Singleton saddling home track qualifying victor Shazee Lee and Jason Attard represented by recent runaway Newcastle winner Reiby Rampart.
Both trainers have booked Melbourne jockeys for their last start winners, with Damien Oliver riding Shazee Lee and Damian Lane taking over from suspended Glyn Schofield on Reiby Rampart.
Mitchell’s Radical Impact finished 14th in the inaugural 2015 final, and Dream Lane ran fifth to Danish Twist last year.
Dream Lane clinched another shot with an excellent first-up third to Provincial favorite Pomelo in the Gosford heat, which was transferred to Rosehill Gardens because of wet weather and run on March 18.
“I’ve got no doubt she is my best chance to win the Provincial Championships Final,” Mitchell said this afternoon.
“She is definitely a better mare than when she ran in this race last year, and was beaten just under two lengths.
“That was only her 11th start. She is a lot stronger now, and she also has better race sense.
“There should be a nice speed in Saturday’s race, and she has the advantage of drawing the inside alley.”
Mitchell is delighted to have Christian Reith riding his five-year-old mare, who has won on three occasions and been placed nine times from 19 starts.
Reith partnered Dream Lane for the first time when she gave her trainer an overdue city breakthrough at Rosehill on November 19 last year by landing a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m).
“It was hard to give her a break after she won so well that day, but there was no option because I always had this race in mind,” Mitchell explained. Reith also was aboard when Dream Lane resumed in the Gosford qualifier at Rosehill last month, and then rode her in an impressive Randwick trial last Friday (she finished off strongly without being put under pressure to finish third to Duca Valentinois over 1050m).
“Christian has done a lot of work on the mare this preparation,” Mitchell said. “He went to Rosehill a few weeks back when I took her from Hawkesbury for a track gallop, and then also rode her in the Randwick trial.
“Thankfully, the Randwick trials went ahead last week in spite of the wet weather and she has come through that hit out well.
“Christian seems to really suit Dream Lane. I couldn’t be happier with her going into Saturday’s race.
“It would be a fantastic result for a smaller stable such as mine if we were able to get the right result.
“Even so, I think she is capable of winning some good races in the future.”
The Provincial Final aside, Hawkesbury is also strongly represented in a number of feature races on the big stage on Saturday. Singleton is chasing Group 1 glory with Cambage (Jess Taylor) in the $1m Australian Oaks (2400m), and also runs Yorkshire Rock (Reith) in the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m).
Garry Frazer has his classy filly Spright (Corey Brown) in the Group 2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (1200m), and Garry White runs Generalissimo (Blake Shinn) in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m).
Noel Mayfield-Smith, who has qualified Unequivocal in each of the last two Provincial Finals, tackles the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) with that mare. Jay Ford has the ride.