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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: November 8, 2022: THE field size may be small, but the competition will be intense!

Tomorrow’s second heat of the Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series at Hawkesbury has a “State of Origin flavour” about it, with the locals facing up against the Newcastle visitors.

The home team will be represented by Tara and Philippe Vigouroux with second favorite Lemaire and Brad Widdup with a resuming Sonic Tycoon, whilst Newcastle’s Jason Deamer (with favorite Awesome Lad) and Kris Lees (third favorite Five Crowns) represent the away side and offer very strong opposition.

From an original acceptance of eight for the heat to be run as a Class 5 Plate (1500m), only five horses will face the starter.

Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker withdrew Sherwood’s One, and fellow Kembla trainer Theresa Bateup this morning confirmed she will rely on the $26 outsider Shaka Rock (apprentice Olivia Chambers), and save stablemate The Guru for Friday’s opening meeting of the Canterbury night seasons.

Additionally, Kris Lees has withdrawn Confessed to rely on topweight Five Crowns, to be ridden by Aaron Bullock.

As a result of the field reduction, this morning shortened Awesome Lad into odds-on ($1.95) ahead of Lemaire ($3.60) and Five Crowns ($4), with Sonic Tycoon next at $10.

Jason Deamer is understandably pleased to have Nash Rawiller aboard Awesome Lad and, nothwithstanding the fact he will ride the gelding 0.5kg over at 56.5kg, the weights certainly favour him in regard to his return clash with Lemaire.

Awesome Lad notched his fifth consecutive minor placing when narrowly beaten by Oakfield Arrow in the $500,000 Four Pillars (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on October 29, and Lemaire was third.

He now meets his Hawkesbury rival on 3kg better terms.

“The set weights conditions of the Summer Provincial Series obviously help us,” Deamer said this morning.

“It’s been a bit frustrating that Awesome Lad hasn’t been able to win this preparation, but all the same he is racing well and ticking over nicely.”

Deamer sent the six-year-old north in August to avoid Sydney’s spate of wet tracks, and after a first-up Doomben sixth, he was placed at Eagle Farm, the Sunshine Coast twice and also the Gold Coast before returning home.

In his Sunshine Coast second on October 7 in a Class 4 Handicap (1400m), he conceded 1kg to the talented import Without Revenge, who scored impressively at Doomben last Saturday.

Deamer is happy with Awesome Lad’s progress since his Four Pillars second, and is keen to give him a crack at the $150,000 Summer Provincial Final (1600m) – comprising the three placegetters in each of the five heats - to be hosted by Hawkesbury Race Club on December 15.

Awesome Lad began his career with Kris Lees at Newcastle and raced only three times for him (including a debut Gosford 1200m Maiden victory in January, 2020) before being purchased by Dynamic Syndications from a Gooree Stud dispersal sale.

The gelding is no stranger to Hawkesbury either, having won a 1300m Benchmark 64 Handicap for four-year-olds and upwards in December, 2020 at his first start for his new trainer.

Lemaire, named after the brilliant French jockey (Christophe Lemaire) who won the 2011 Melbourne Cup on Dunaden, will be ridden by Winona Costin and has been placed at both starts since resuming.

He ran second to Bullet Rider in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) at $61 at Warwick Farm on October 12 on a “Heavy 8” before his excellent Four Pillars placing at $31 back on a good surface.

Five Crowns goes to Hawkesbury unbeaten from two starts this campaign; the first on his home track in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1250m) with 59.5kg on September 17 before trekking north to land a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m) with 58.5kg at Eagle Farm on October 15.

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup qualified last Saturday’s opening Wyong heat winner Showtime Lady for the December 15 final at home, and is looking to do the same with Sonic Tycoon.

The five-year-old hasn’t raced since winning a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m) at Gosford in February, and has trialled pleasingly twice at home in preparation for his resumption.

“Sonic Tycoon is a good fresh horse, but is open to further improvement from tomorrow’s race,” Widdup said.

“The beauty about contesting an early heat is that if he isn’t placed tomorrow, we still have time to qualify by running in another heat.

“Sonic Tycoon is raced by a large syndicate of owners, and it’s nice to give something to aim for with this series.

“The $150,000 prizemoney for the final is the same as a Saturday race in town.”

Like Awesome Lad, Sonic Tycoon is also a Hawkesbury winner. He scored on debut there in a 1500m Maiden in December, 2020 for his previous trainers Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou and then ran a close fourth in a Benchmark 68 Handicap (1300m) 12 months ago at his new home track when having his first start for Widdup.

. The rail is 3m out from the 1100m to 600m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit. A “Good 4” rating has been posted by course manager Rick Johnston. A total of 5mm of irrigation has been put on the track in the last 24 hours, and 33mm overall in the past week.

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