By Ray Hickson
A quinella in the opening qualifier at Hawkesbury on Sunday has trainer Kim Waugh one step closer to finally lifting the Polytrack Provincial Championships trophy.
Waugh’s promising pair Safado and Spring Charlie fought out the finish of the 1400m Hawkesbury Qualifier with Greg McFarlane’s It’s So Obvious also booking a spot in the $500,000 April 13 final at Royal Randwick.
In the four previous years of the Provincial Championships, Waugh has posted placings with Oxford Poet (2015), His Majesty (2016) and Newsfan (2018).
“They are both so gutsy and very professional,’’ Waugh said on Sky Thoroughbred Central after Safado ran down Spring Charlie near the post.
“I could see they both had beautiful runs. Spring Charlie was on the hot pace first-up and I thought he was going to win still and I thought Safado, ‘please just run third and you’re qualified’.
“But, wow, he’s just powered home, he’s a good horse.’’
Safado, who had been beaten at Canterbury as an odds-on favourite on February 1, was still 12m behind Spring Charlie at the 300m but Punter’s Intelligence data showed he ran his last 200m in 11.79 compared to his stablemate’s 12.44.
Jockey Jason Collett said he was wary of the pace set by Cuban Royale and elected to be patient, convinced the leaders would come back to him.
“The speed made it interesting. It got me out of my comfort zone and I didn’t want to chase so I ended up giving them a good head start,’’ Collett said.
“I was confident I was going to run them down, I was more worried about what I was dragging into the race.’’
Waugh said she wouldn’t make any racetrack decisions about the path both horses would take to the final in six weeks.
It was Safado’s third run this preparation while Spring Charlie was first-up. Waugh’s other major contender Fuchu will head to the Newcastle Qualifier on March 9.
Safado wins the Provincial Championships Qualifier at Hawkesbury
Spring Charlie’s jockey Blake Shinn was rapt with his mount’s effort in defeat.
“His run was very brave, being first-up over 1400m,’’ Shinn said.
“From the 900m the leader really applied the pressure and until then I was very happy. It took the sprint I had and it was going to leave him vulnerable.’’
Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane said It’s So Obvious’ effort to run third had plenty of merit given he was 50-50 about running just eight days after her last start Canterbury win.
“She’s not a back-up horse, she acquitted herself very well,’’ he said.
It’s So Obvious heads for a freshen up in the paddock and will have one more run before the Final, while McFarlane will produce Golden Tycoon in the Newcastle Qualifier after his first-up fourth behind Baller at Rosehill on Saturday.