A pair of three-year-olds both sold as yearlings in the same year but at vastly different prices will attract a lot of interest at Sunday’s Hawkesbury meeting.
Stark (Shaun Guymer), a colt who fetched a cool $1.45m at the 2018 Gold Coast Magic Millions sale, is one of the most expensive horses in training, and finally gets to show his wares in the Adz Tyre & Battery Maiden Handicap (1300m).
On the other hand, $100,000 Inglis Australian Easter purchase Syncline (Brenton Avdulla) is a gelding and already a winner from only three starts, and poised to take the next step in The Galston Club Class 1 Handicap (1300m) after a stunning Taree victory on resumption.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup says Stark, a son of outstanding stallion I Am Invincible and the first foal of 2012 Group 1 Caulfield Thousand Guineas winner Commanding Jewel, is ready to belatedly make his debut only a couple of weeks before entering his four-year-old season.
Stark has trialled seven times, the latest when a distant fourth of seven over 1000m at Wyong on July 1, during four different preparations.
“He has been a slow maturer and we have had to be patient with him,” Widdup said today. “I’m unsure how he will go first-up but is as forward as I can get him to begin his career.”
Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees prepares Syncline, who is a son of Golden Slipper winner Stratum and also the first foal of four-times Queensland winner Dysfunction.
“Syncline has always shown ability, but is a different horse now that he has been gelded,” Lees said. “I know he might not have beaten much at Taree recently, but he was strong through the line and ran good time.
“He has trained on well, and I’m confident he can make city grade now that he is going in the right direction.”
As with Stark, Syncline didn’t race as a two-year-old and was narrowly beaten on debut in a 1200m Maiden Plate at Newcastle last September. He was spelled after finishing fourth in a similar race at Wyong in early October.
Lees’ breakthrough Grafton Cup victory with Sixties Groove yesterday was the 1994th winner of his career, edging him toward a benchmark 2000. He also entered Syncline for a Class 2 Handicap (1400m) at Tamworth on Monday, but indicated this morning he was favouring the Hawkesbury assignment.
Whilst Syncline is Lees’ sole Hawkesbury acceptor, Widdup (with 39 wins so far this season and keen to at least equal or better last season’s 41) has a number of runners at his home meeting.
They include Vegareign (Alysha Collett), who was previously a member of Lees’ team, and debuts for his new trainer in the same race as Stark. Vegareign, a Lope De Vega four-year-old, has been placed at two of his six starts and finished just ahead of Stark in that recent Wyong trial.
Widdup’s other runners are Beauchamp (Jay Ford) and Nags To Riches (Andrew Adkins) in the PKB Autoclave Services 2&3YO Maiden Handicap (1000m), and Deepfield’s Raine (Koby Jennings) in Syncline’s race. Beauchamp (a Brazen Beau gelding) and Nags To Riches (a Written Tycoon filly) are two-year-olds making their debuts.
Beauchamp has been placed at both trials this preparation, and Nags To Riches was narrowly beaten by Private Eye in an 845m Wyong trial on July 1.
“Both horses have trialled up well,” Widdup said. “There doesn’t seem to be much between them.
“Deepfield’s Raine won on debut at Hawkesbury last December at big odds and is fitter for one run back this time when sixth over 1000m at Kembla Grange on June 25. Going to 1300m will suit him better.”
Rachel King has a full book of rides on the eight-race card as she bids to become the first woman to capture the Hawkesbury senior riding premiership. With 11 wins, King holds a three-win lead over Tommy Berry, Jay Ford, Tim Clark and Jason Collett.
Berry and Clark are absentees on Sunday, and there is only one further meeting (July 30) remaining before the season closes.
King’s mounts are for four trainers. She partners Urban Warrior, Hit The High Note and Belitsa for Peter and Paul Snowden, Shades Of Frisco, Paris In May and recent winner Timely Shadow for Hawkesbury’s Garry White, Zilva for James Cummings, and Dame Kiri for Allan Denham.
The rail is in the TRUE position, and the track this morning was rated a Soft 6 with a penetrometer reading of 5.6.
PAUL JOICE'S SELECTIONS
RACE 1: MALFY, Kiss And Tell, Calbuco.
RACE 2: AEECEE BEAU, Navalha, Urban Warrior.
RACE 3: ZOUNATE, Hit The High Note, Jazirat.
RACE 4: TOLERATE, Barossa Rosa, Beauchamp.
RACE 5: FRONT MONEY, Escaped, Snitzagirl.
RACE 6: SYNCLINE, Sam Spade, Saint Ambrose.
RACE 7: MOST WELCOME, Renalot, Timely Shadow.
RACE 7: DAME KIRI, Happy Seventy, Deepwood Vale.
BEST: MALFY, FRONT MONEY, SYNCLINE