By Ray Hickson
Trainer Kim Waugh had a few anxious pre-race moments but emerging four-year-old Uptown Lad confirmed he’s a contender for the Provincial Championships Final with a stunning last to first win at Hawkesbury.
The gelding threw a shoe behind the stalls and had to be replated then he missed the start but jockey Jean Van Overmeire kept a cool head and Uptown Lad did the rest.
Uptown Lad joins stablemate Manhattan Mist in the $500,000 Final on April 14 while Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, who won the opening heat at Wyong with Just Dreaming, added Bastia to his team.
The David Atkins-trained Plaisir split that pair and also heads to Randwick.
Uptown Lad overcame a few scares to win the Provincial Championships Qualifier at Hawkesbury
Waugh paid tribute to Uptown Lad’s compsure and class in overcoming difficulties to win the $150,000 Provincial Championships Qualifier (1400m).
“I was worried before the gates opened, because he pulled a shoe but they really looked after him around there,’’ Waugh said.
“If he’d got beaten I’d have said ‘what an unbelievable run’ but to fight back and win it’s sensational.
“No matter what happens he’s going to be a very good horse.’’
Waugh purchased Uptown Lad for $50,000 and the gelding has now amassed almost $300,000 from 13 starts for six wins.
“He was passed in but I loved him so I went back and bought him. We knew he was always going to take time but always had good ability,’’ she said.
For jockey Jean Van Overmeire the win was justification for his decision to forego rides at Randwick, where he would have partnered two-year-old Aylmerton to a Group 2 Todman Stakes win, to stick with Uptown Lad.
“I was having a little cry to everyone in the room, I missed out on a Group winner and at this stage of my career it would have been very exciting,’’ Van Overmeire said.
“Nothing went our way but he had the class to pull it off. I wasn’t too worried, it’s his style of racing, midrace I popped out three wide then four wide with cover.
“Everyone fanned out which pushed us very wide but his class came through.’’
Uptown Lad was promoted to second favourite by TAB for next month’s Provincial Championships Final (1400m), firming from $8 into $6 behind Just Dreaming ($4.60).
Sugar Bella’s win at Randwick on Saturday made her ineligible for the series.
Waugh is likely to attempt to qualify the promising Newsfan in next Saturday’s Qualifier, run over 1200m, at Gosford.