Hawkesbury trainer Matthew Vella is hoping “lightning will strike twice” at his home track’s final meeting of the year on Sunday.
And there’s bound to be plenty of emotion if his unraced three-year-old filly De Grawin makes a successful debut in the J & G Excavations & Asphalting Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1100m).
A daughter of Snitzel, the aptly-named De Grawin (Grawin is an opal field near Lightning Ridge) is the fourth and last foal of the now deceased and one-time Randwick 1000m record-holder De Lightning Ridge, who won four Sydney races in a relatively brief career which yielded six victories from 20 starts.
De Lightning Ridge, a $260,000 purchase at the 2007 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, clocked 55.92secs in winning the 2010 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick. The record is now held by dual The Everest winner Redzel at 55.73s (set in March last year).
The slick sprinter was preparing for a clash with unbeaten champ Black Caviar in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington, but was retired after sustaining a tendon injury a few weeks earlier in easily winning a Warwick Farm barrier trial in January, 2011.
Vella says De Lightning Ridge’s last foal has been a work in progress, but is looking forward to finally getting her to the races.
“I break in horses for David O’Keeffe’s ACT-based Lockyer Thoroughbreds,” Vella explained. “De Grawin’s x-rays weren’t the best, and David decided to leave her with me to train.
“I have taken her along steadily and both her recent trials (second over 800m at Hawkesbury on November 19 and second over 900m at Rosehill Gardens on December 2) have been very pleasing.
“If she runs up to her trials and her work, she should be hard to beat. Perhaps lack of race experience might go against her, but it is nice to be able to take her to the races.”
Vella has had only four starters (including two placings) since winning with Pacific Legend at Hawkesbury on September 12, and has an ally in De Grawin’s rider Rachel King.
The talented young jockey rode a treble at Hawkesbury last Sunday, and currently shares top spot with Tommy Berry (seven wins apiece) in this season’s premiership. King partnered De Grawin when she was pipped on the post by unraced I Am Invincible filly We Are Many in her Rosehill trial last Monday week.
Glyn Schofield, who ride De Grawin’s dam when she won the 2010 Challenge Stakes, will be a rival in Sunday’s race. He rides another debutant, Brad Widdup’s Deep Field colt Deepfield’s Raine, who will wear blinkers.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Garry White has called on Grant Buckley to try to end a run of minor placings with his consistent four-year-old War Cabinet. A son of Camelot, War Cabinet has not finished further back than fourth in all five starts – and finished third in three of them – and has been ridden by a different jockey each time.
War Cabinet has been freshened since finishing third (with Jason Collett aboard) to Mission Phoenix in a 1500m Maiden Plate on his home track on November 7. White in fact has booked Buckley for all his three runners at the meeting; the others being Dunatun (Adenbrook Homes Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1400m) and Three Flags (Bray Building Pty Ltd 3YO Maiden Plate, 1600m).
Dunatun ran on gamely when third to Commute in a Class 4 Handicap (1350m) at Wyong on November 28, and winkers come off and blinkers go back on. Three of the five-year-old’s four career victories have been on his home track, though he is yet to win at 1400m.
Three Flags is a three-year-old son of Olympic Glory making his debut at 1600m, and also will race in blinkers. The rail is in the TRUE position for the meeting, and the track this morning was rated a “Good 4” with a penetrometer reading of 5.2.
PAUL JOICE'S SELECTIONS
RACE 1: BRIX, Silent General, Zeppelin.
RACE 2: OUR FOX, Charm Offensive, De Grawin.
RACE 3: ROOSEVELT, Galaxial, Enfleurage.
RACE 4: EIGHTH IMMORTAL, Faith And Love, Kennebee.
RACE 5: SHE’S IDEEL, Secretly, Loved One.
RACE 6: NEW OFFER, Viren, The Snooperstar.
BEST: ROOSEVELT, SHE’S IDEEL, NEW OFFER