Hawkesbury co-trainers Mitch and Desiree Kearney are banking on a home ground advantage for Spin Bowles on Sunday.
Though beaten at his last start at Gosford, Spin Bowles is chasing a Hawkesbury hat-trick in the fourth heat of the Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series (1500m).
The six-year-old won a Class 2 Handicap (1600m) at home on October 30 at $17 and backed up a fortnight later to score again over the same distance in a Benchmark 64 Handicap at $13.
Koby Jennings rode Spin Bowles in that latest victory and also when he finished fourth to Condor in the second heat of the series over 1600m at Gosford on November 22, and partners him again.
Mitch Kearney this morning said he wasn’t disappointed with his gelding’s Gosford performance.
“He drew well, but knuckled a bit on jumping,” Kearney said. “It meant he settled a length or two further back than what we had planned, so in the circumstances he ran well.
“Getting back to his home track obviously is a bonus, and we’ve been happy with his progress since the Gosford race.
“We’ll be disappointed if he isn’t fighting out the finish on Sunday and earns a place in the final.”
The first three placegetters automatically qualify for the $150,000 Final (1600m) at the Belle of the Turf and Gosford Guineas meeting on December 27, with the fifth and final heat to be run at Wyong on December 19.
Interestingly, two Hawkesbury husband and wife training partnerships have representatives in Sunday’s heat.
As well and Mitch and Desiree Kearney, who have won four races this season, Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard have Kiarra Rose (Glyn Schofield).
The Attards, who took out their joint licence at the beginning of the current season on August 1, celebrated a breakthrough success with Cinderconi in the Robert Thompson Cup at Newcastle last Sunday.
Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is seeking to add to the three horses (Kedah, High Power, and Itz Lily) he has already qualified for the December 27 final.
He runs early favorite and first-upper Occupy (Sam Clenton) and Cullingworth (Louise Day).
Lees flew to Hong Kong last night to saddle In Her Time in Sunday’s Group 1 Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin, and the stable has warned import Occupy will take improvement from the Hawkesbury race.
“Occupy has plenty of ability, as he showed when he won at the Scone metropolitan standard meeting in May,” stable spokesman Lucas Miller said this morning.
“But he took a first-up run at Newcastle beforehand to show that ability. Occupy’s two recent trials have been fair, and we’re hoping his class will carry him through on Sunday.
“But he will definitely be better for this run. Kris decided to use Louise’s 2kg claim on our other runner Cullingworth to help offset his 59kg.
“Cullingworth went to our Gold Coast stable after winning at the Moree Cup meeting in early September and won a 1640m midweek race at Doomben in October.
“He wasn’t too far away when fifth to Condor in the Gosford heat on November 22, and will be helped by the 2kg weight drop and the inside draw.”
Wyong trainer Tracey Bartley also has two representatives – Equilibrium (Rachel King) and Mr Plow (Mitchell Bell) – and has opted for gear changes on the latter.
Mr Plow, a first-up Newcastle 1200m winner on November 2 at $51, has been beaten twice since.
The cross-over nose band comes off, and instead he will race in a Norton bit and wear ear muffs.
Gary Portelli has scratched dual acceptor Zounate from the Simpson Building Group Maiden Plate (1300m) to oppose stablemate Kirro in the longer South West Excavations Maiden Handicap (1500m).
Zounate will race in blinkers and be ridden by 3kg claimer Tom Sherry, meaning he will carry 1kg less than his stablemate, who will be partnered by senior jockey Rachel King. The Portelli pair dominate early betting in the six-horse field.
King also rides the John O’Shea pair and early favorites Private Thoughts (JDS Concreting Maiden Handicap, 1000m) and Fashchanel (Simpson Building Group Maiden Plate, 1300m).
Three-year-old Snitzel filly Private Thoughts evokes memories of a previous horse with the same name, who was a younger brother to champion Kingston Town (Bletchingly -Ada Hunter) and dead-heated with Trench Digger in the 1981 Phar Lap Stakes at Rosehill, and also won a Listed race in Brisbane.
The rail is in the TRUE position for Sunday’s meeting, and a “Good 4” rating was posted this morning with a penetrometer reading of 5.07.
Paul Joice’s selections are:
RACE 1: ZOUNATE, Kirro, Georgina Gold.
RACE 2: PRIVATE THOUGHTS, Lavande, Princess Sunlight.
RACE 3: OUR FUN, Chains Of Honour, Saint Ambrose.
RACE 4: BRING THE RANSOM, In Lighten Me, Rockin’ Ruga.
RACE 5: FASHCHANEL, Celandine, Fulmina.
RACE 6: SPRING CHARLIE, Cullingworth, Spin Bowles.
RACE 7: KEY TO GLORY, Rebukes, Glamour Fox.
BEST: OUR FUN, BRING THE RANSOM, SPRING CHARLIE