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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: June 26, 2022: THE Sons Of John colours were back in the winning list at Newcastle yesterday.

One of his relations, the lightly-raced Sovereign Express broke through in the Maiden Plate (1400m) – a result which was understandably pleasing for Hawkesbury husband and wife trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard.

Jason Attard, when training solo, landed the Group 3 Hawkesbury Cup (1600m) with Sons Of John in 2015, and he and his wife have done a tremendous job to get Sovereign Express to the track, let alone win a race with him.

“Sovereign Express came to us as unhandled three-year-old,” Jason Attard said today.

“We gelded him and educated him, and being a late starter, he has been a real work in progress.

“He was borderline shinsore at his first two starts last year as an early four-year-old, and we gave him a break.

“That was his third run back yesterday, and he has been gradually improving, coming off a nice second at Hawkesbury at his previous start.”

After the late scratching at the barrier of well fancied Condrieu, Sovereign Express ($4.40) finished gamely to overhaul Star Buyer ($3.50) in the closing stages.

Owner John Kelly bred both Sons Of John (by Oratorio) and Sovereign Express, a rising five-year-old son of Bullet Train.

Sovereign Express’ dam Cut A Caper (who won 12 races) is out of the former good Sydney mare Just Trish, whose dam Road Toll is also the dam of Sons Of John’s mother Mountain Echo.

Whilst Jason Attard won both the 2015 Hawkesbury Cup and 2016 Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick with Sons Of John, it was a narrow defeat which the trainer will always remember.

Sons Of John, at his first start after winning his hometown Cup a few months earlier, went within a whisker of ruining the mighty Winx’s remarkable winning run in the Group 2 Theo Marks Quality (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens.

At $31, he was pipped at the post by the champion mare.

“Winning both the Hawkesbury Cup and Bill Ritchie were terrific, but almost beating Winx just about takes the cake,” Attard said.

“We owe Sons Of John so much and he has a home here at our Grose Vale farm for the rest of his days.

“He gets ridden every now and then and enjoys a swim in the dam in summer.”

Team Attard was also thrilled with jockey Rory Hutchings’ victory on Sovereign Express yesterday.

“Rory is part of the family,” Jason Attard said. “Lucy rode work with him when she was working for Chris Waller at Rosehill.

“And he came out and rode work for us and then helped out at the farm during the day when he was battling to keep his weight down.

“He is a brilliant jockey, and would be riding in town every Saturday if he was a few kilos lighter.”

. The Attards will step their recent Hawkesbury stand-alone winner Knight up to 1800m at Rosehill on Saturday in a Benchmark 78 Handicap.

Knight became eligible for the $2m The Big Dance at Royal Randwick on November 1 by finishing second in the Wellington Cup (1600m) run at Dubbo on June 3, and has since had a tick-over 1250m trial on his home track on June 21.

“He will probably have one or two more runs to try to get his Benchmark rating up and then have a break, as we would like to give him his chance to make the field for the inaugural running of The Big Dance,” Jason Attard said.

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