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  • John Curtis


WEDNESDAY: November 17, 2021: IT’S a “critical time” for Hawkesbury trainer Blake Ryan on his home track tomorrow.

The experienced horseman, who branched out on his own earlier this year and won with his debut runner Divine Future at Orange on February 20, is yet to have his first metropolitan starter.

He is hoping his lightly-raced three-year-old Critical Time may fill the bill – but not before he measures up to provincial company.

The Shalaa colt will get the chance tomorrow when he lines up in the Blacktown Workers Club Group Provincial & Country Maiden Plate (1300m), with a new rider and a gear change.

In a race dominated by Hawkesbury horses in the pre-post market, Critical Time (Josh Parr) this morning was a $3.40 fixed odds favorite with, ahead of Daniel Robinson’s Ricky Bobby ($4), Jason and Lucy Attard’s debutant Brent Street ($4.80), and Terry Croft’s Fine Impact ($6).

After a series of trial victories, Critical Time began his career at home when fifth to Nashira in an 1100m Maiden Handicap on October 26.

He became fractious in the barrier, but was passed fit to start.

“That was unlike him,” Ryan said this morning. “He has been to three trials and three jumpouts, and never put a foot wrong.

“The excitement of the day probably got to him and he was also a bit field shy, but I’m sure he will have taken benefit from that experience.”

Ryan has opted not to leave pre-race ear muffs on Critical Time, and instead will race him in visors.

“He probably didn’t need the ear muffs, but I like to use those with my first starters,” he said.

“I didn’t want to go to the extent of putting blinkers on him second up, but felt he still needed a bit of help, hence the visors (similar to blinkers, but with a gap in the side, preventing a horse from panicking if it can’t see other runners).

“I’ve always had a bit of time for this horse, and have been hoping he might be my first runner in town with a good chance.

“But I won’t be taking him there as a maiden.”

Jay Ford partnered Critical Time in two of his three trial wins, and also when he began his career late last month.

However, Ryan had intended to run the colt at last Wednesday’s washed out Hawkesbury meeting, and missed out booking Ford, who rides another Hawkesbury representative, Brad Widdup’s first starter Thought Pattern ($23) - who is Sky Racing analyst Paul Joice’s selection – for tomorrow’s race.

“We’ve got a great replacement in Josh, and I’m expecting Critical Time to acquit himself well.”

Ryan prepared 16 two-year-olds for last month’s Inglis Ready2Race sale, and all but two of them were sold.

Having won his first race this season with Illustrating Law at Gosford on October 7, he has 14 horses in work – with room for a few more.

Punters will be pinning their faith in Melbourne Cup winning jockey James McDonald, who returns to Hawkesbury tomorrow, having had only 13 rides there so far this season for two wins.

He has five mounts – and all are pre-post favorites.

The McDonald rides are Pizarro ($2.20), Don Arcangelo ($4), Wizard of Oz ($3.50), This’llbetheone ($2.25), and Yumi ($3.40).

Pizarro, Don Arcangelo and This’llbetheone are with John O’Shea, Chris Waller has Wizard of Oz, and Peter and Paul Snowden prepare Yumi.

Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer has chosen tomorrow’s meeting with his recent acquisition Too Much Class rather than start her at Rosehill Gardens today.

Apprentice Dylan Gibbons, who clinched a Group 3 breakthrough on Festival Dancer in last Saturday’s Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle, rides Too Much Class in the TAB F&M Benchmark 64 Handicap (1500m); his 2kg claim lessening her weight to 58kg.

At her first run for her new trainer, the Smart Missile mare won a 1600m Class 2 Handicap at Scone on September 24 before finishing fifth in a 1600m Benchmark 64 Handicap at Newcastle on October 16.

She is back against her own sex tomorrow.

Whilst Too Much Class goes to Hawkesbury, it’s the opposite with the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Nothinsweetaboutme, who instead goes to Rosehill and not Too Much Class’ Hawkesbury event.

. The rail is 3m out for the entire circumference, and a “Soft 5” rating has been posted by course manager Rick Johnston following 50mm of rain in the past seven days.

. Paul Joice’s selections are:

RACE 1: BELLE ESPOIR, Nothinsweetaboutme, Too Much Class.

RACE 2: QUATENUS, Petulant, Monte De Fiore.

RACE 3: THOUGHT PATTERN, Brent Street, Critical Time.

RACE 4: AUREUS ANGEL, Clemenceau, Pizarro.

RACE 5: DON ARCANGELO, Just A Jedi, Merlinite.

RACE 6: RUSSIAN RUBLE, Shay, Midnight Oasis.

RACE 7: THIS’LL BE THE ONE, Spaltet, King of Spades.

RACE 8: YUMI, Deficit, Remus.


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