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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Pictured: Steve O’Halloran

WEDNESDAY: September 21, 2022: ARMIDALE trainer Stirling Osland will break new ground with his first runner at Hawkesbury tomorrow – and it’s an important debut at the provincial track.

Osland’s The Kosciuszko contender Golden Point will have his final lead-up to the $2m feature at Royal Randwick when he contests the Pioneer Services Conditional Open Handicap (1300m).

Apprentice Zac Lloyd’s 1.5kg claim will lessen the gelding’s weight to 59.5kg.

Having made the trip from home yesterday with both Golden Point and Point Counterpoint (also his first Canterbury runner later today) to stable the horses with Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle (they both train for Matthew Sandblom’s Horse Ventures), Osland considers the Hawkesbury race is appealing to top off the gelding’s preparation for The Kosciuszko on October 15.

“I accepted with Golden Point for a 1200m Benchmark 72 Handicap at Warwick Farm last Wednesday, but he drew off the track, and again drew awkwardly in a 1250m Benchmark 78 at Canterbury today,” Osland said this morning.

“He has also been nominated for the Spring Cup (1200m) at Tamworth next Monday, but with more rain forecast I didn’t want to risk waiting for that.

“When I noticed this race at Hawkesbury, I felt it would be ideal for Golden Point to run and then have a break of just over three weeks before The Kosciuszko.

“Also, with the small field and drawn nicely, he won’t have a hard run and will be fresh and ready for Randwick.”

Osland last year took over the preparation of Golden Point, a $65,000 2019 Adelaide yearling sale purchase, after he had gone to the races three times in country Victoria without winning.

He has done a terrific job with the Bull Point five-year-old, winning five of his next nine starts.

Osland has taken him to Sydney on three occasions for TAB Highways, notching 1200m placings at Rosehill Gardens on January 8 and Randwick on February 5 before scoring over 1400m at Rosehill a fortnight later.

Golden Point that day conceded 1kg to Goulburn rival Shelby Sixtysix, who a few starts later clinched Group 1 glory for his trainer Danny Williams in The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill.

At his only subsequent start, the Armidale sprinter made an impressive return, easily winning the Tamworth Rush (1200m) on August 29.

“He has done well since, and keeps improving as he goes up in grade,” Osland said.

“He is probably underrated, considering some of the horses he has beaten are above him in The Kosciuszko betting.”

Golden Point is currently listed at $26 with for The Kosciuszko, for which Osland is yet to confirm a rider.

As Osland hopes to celebrate a victory with his first Hawkesbury runner, so too is local trainer Steve O’Halloran keen to make his mark at tomorrow’s meeting by clinching a breakthrough success at home.

But O’Halloran is keeping a close watch on the weather as he doesn’t want it too wet for his representative Superargo in the XXXX Gold Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m).

“It was pretty wet when I ran him after a break at Muswellbrook in late April, and he wasn’t comfortable at all,” he said this morning.

That was the Super One four-year-old’s only blemish in six career starts, having been placed in the other five; four of them consecutively since the Muswellbrook failure.

“Reggie Blundell is a good Hunter Valley horsewoman, and asked me to train Superargo,” O’Halloran said.

“I’d love to win a race for her and fellow owners, and Superargo can definitely run well provided the rain doesn’t arrive.”

O’Halloran nominated another of his consistent performers Martini Crusader, runner-up at his last three starts after breaking through at Newcastle on August 6, for Sunday’s Bathurst Cup (1800m) at the Showcase meeting.

With 32 entries however, he doubts the gelding’s 64 benchmark rating will get him a start, and instead may give him a city opportunity in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1900m) at Rosehill next Wednesday.

. The rail is out varying distances; 2m from the 1100m to 600m, 4m from 600m to 400m, 2m from 400m to winning post, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit.

Course manager Rick Johnston has posted a “Soft 5” rating this morning, and understandably is hoping rain forecast for later today and tomorrow gives Hawkesbury a miss.

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