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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: September 20, 2023: HAWKESBURY proved a happy hunting ground last season for Canberra trainer Norm Gardner.

Two wins with his smart mare Delacour, including a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) victory at $21 at the Saturday stand-alone meeting in April, from only three starters at the provincial track in 2022-23 have him keen to make another impact there tomorrow.

Gardner will saddle another mare, hat-trick seeker Devine Miss, in the Altos Margarita RTD Conditional Open Handicap (1300m).

Tyler Schiller will ride Devine Miss, who comes off two victories on Canberra’s ACTON track on August 4 and September 1 in Benchmark 58 (1280m) and 65 (1206m) Handicaps respectively.

Schiller, making a great first of his graduation to a senior jockey, won both the Hawkesbury apprentice and senior premierships last season.

Whilst Devine Miss’ two recent successes were achieved on the synthetic surface, her first three wins – the first at Cootamundra and other two at Canberra – were on the turf.

Though the mare doesn’t have to go to the post until the Hawkesbury closer at 5.25pm, she will leave home much earlier for a particular reason.

“She doesn’t travel well on her own, so she will go in the float with Nick Olive’s Invincible Dash, who is in the third race,” Gardner explained this morning.

“Devine Miss doesn’t have a big field against her, and I feel it is a nice race to have a crack at provincial company.

“I expect her to run well, but my concern is whether the track will be too firm.

“She is definitely better on rain-affected ground, hence why she has been racing so well on our synthetic track.”

Devine Miss, who has won five races and been placed on seven occasions from 21 starts, is a homebred.

A five-year-old daughter of Headwater, she is the first foal of the I Am Invincible mare Madam Tilly, who won on debut at Canberra in 2015 and raced only seven times.

“We bought Madam Tilly online before she had raced specifically with the aim to breed with her,” Gardner said.

“We were able to get a win with her first-up, but unfortunately she had a wind problem and wasn’t able to show her true ability.

“But for that, I’m sure she would have been a city class mare.

“Madam Tilly’s second foal Lethal Lady (by Smart Missile) has won three races for us, and her third foal, a two-year-old by Star Turn named Take The Rap, is yet to start.”

An avid racing man, Gardner rode 30 winners on the picnic circuit as an amateur jockey earlier in his life, and now enjoys his role as a Canberra Racing Club committeeman as well as keeping around 20 horses in work.

Peter and Paul Snowden’s Capital Asset has been withdrawn from a Warwick Farm engagement today to run in the Conditional Open at Hawkesbury, and Ryan Maloney takes the ride.

Winkers go back on the four-year-old, who returns to provincial grade after three runs in town this time in work.

There will be no shortage of local competition either, with three Hawkesbury representatives also engaged.

They are Blake Ryan’s Momack, Mick Attard’s Putt For Dough, and Phil and Tara Vigouroux’s Zouologist.

Apprentices Jett Stanley (2kg claim) and Julia Presits (3kg) have been booked for Momack and Zouologist respectively, whilst senior jockey Jean Van Overmeire renews a successful association with Putt For Dough, on whom he won at Kembla Grange on August 5 before finishing second in a Royal Randwick Midway Handicap a fortnight later.

Hawkesbury trainer Wayne Austin has advised RacingNSW stewards of a late plating change on Jabali Belle (Kathy O’Hara) in the Bundaberg Campfire Bourbon Barrel Midway Class 1 Handicap (1500m).

Jabali Belle was runner-up to fellow Hawkesbury representative, Team Kearney’s Mycah Leon, at her latest start at Newcastle on August 29 over 1400m.

. Course manager Kyle Cassim this morning posted a “Good 4” rating, with a penetrometer reading of 5.12. He has put 3mm of irrigation the track in the past 24 hours, and a total of 23mm in the last week.

The rail is 2m out from the 1100m to 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit. Racing begins at 1.05pm with the Great Northern Cup Maiden Plate (1500m).

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