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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: March 13, 2023: TERRY Croft is hoping the racing gods smile more favourably on him when he takes two good chances to his home track meeting tomorrow.

The long-standing Hawkesbury trainer unfortunately didn’t get an opportunity this autumn to test his promising young stayer Kandos Cosmos as a potential ATC Derby candidate when he fell by the wayside with a tendon injury and requires a lengthy spell.

Never one to dwell on lost chances, he will start Thinking Rain and I’m A Shaker tomorrow – and both lightly-raced fellow three-year-olds race in the same colours for former publican Mal Russell as Stratum Star colt Kandos Cosmos.

Additionally, Croft has been able to secure Brenton Avdulla to ride his Hawkesbury pair.

So You Think filly Thinking Rain has her first start for her new trainer in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m), and recent Port Macquarie winner I’m A Shaker steps back up to provincial grade in the St Johns Park Bowling Club Midway Class 1 Handicap (1500m).

Thinking Rain is the early fixed odds $3.40 second favorite, and I’m A Shaker is joint second favorite at $5.50, behind Clear Choice ($2.25).

“Thinking Rain is not an overly impressive track worker, but she trialled well at Kembla Grange last week (narrowly beaten by city winner Tampering in a 790m Open heat),” Croft said.

“She is coming back in class, and any rain would surely help as she easily won a 1200m Gosford Maiden against her own sex on a Heavy 10 when on debut last July.

“It’s just a question of whether she is sharp enough for 1000m first-up, but I’m expecting her to run well.”

Croft, who maintains a boutique stable at Hawkesbury and landed a two-track double on February 27 with I’m A Shaker (Port Macquarie) and Island Legend (Orange) before his two-year-old filly Gold Lover ran second on the Kensington track last Wednesday, is keen to again try the former against provincial opposition following a convincing country 1500m Maiden success at his last run.

“I’m A Shaker has trained on well since Port Macquarie, and tomorrow’s race will tell us where we are at with him,” he said.

“He keeps improving, and putting winkers on helped him focus better when he won that day.

“The filly (Fine Example) he beat at Port Macquarie won her next start at Taree last week.”

Provided I’m A Shaker races up to expectations tomorrow, Croft is likely to give the Kobayashi gelding a short break and aim for the Grafton Guineas (1600m) at the July carnival.

Croft finished second with Vite Loni in the 2014 Guineas, and also won the Big Maiden (1200m) there a year earlier with Catseye Surprise.

Avdulla, with six wins at Hawkesbury so far this season, is only two behind pacesetter Rachel King - a previous premiership winner at the track – and has an excellent book tomorrow with mounts in all but one of the eight races.

As well as the Croft pair, he rides Moonflower ($2.40), Separatist ($4.80), Gorgeous Zara ($2.30), Field Marshal ($3.60), and Jayanthi ($8).

Moonflower, Gorgeous Zara and Field Marshal all currently head betting on their respective races.

Separatist (Blake Ryan) and Gorgeous Zara (John O’Shea) are prepared at Hawkesbury, and the former will race in visors for the first time.

James Cummings holds a commanding lead in this season’s trainers’ premiership; his 14 victories so far this racing year being double that of closest rival, Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle, who is also having an excellent season.

Both have representatives tomorrow; Cummings with Moonflower (Sky Racing 3YO Maiden Handicap, 1300m) and High Plateau (in Thinking Rain’s race), and Doyle has Ready By Design (Lander Toyota Benchmark 64 Handicap, 2000m) and The Empire and Concocted (Clarendon Tavern Benchmark 68 Handicap, 1300m).

However, Concocted has drawn poorly, and is also entered for Thursday’s Provincial-Midway Championship Qualifier (1200m) at Gosford.

Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Claire Lever has opted for blinkers on Jukebox Flyer (to be ridden by husband Chad), who opposes Thinking Rain and High Plateau in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m).

The Jukebox filly was a beaten odds-on favorite when resuming at Orange on February 27 with a big weight (62.5kg).

RacingNSW stewards reported Jukebox Flyer blundered on jumping, and laid out whilst under pressure in the straight. She drops 5kg tomorrow.

. The rail is in the TRUE position, and a “Soft 5” rating was posted this morning by racecourse manager Rick Johnston.

. Current premiership standings are:


J. Cummings 14

N. Doyle 7

C. Waller 6

B. Widdup 6

J. O’Shea 5


R. King 8

S. Clipperton 7

B. Avdulla 6

K. Latham 6

T. Schiller (a) 6

Z. Lloyd (a) 6


T. Schiller 6

Z. Lloyd 6

D. Gibbons 4

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