TUESDAY: February 14, 2023: HAWKESBURY mare Star Mission doubled up at home today and earned herself a shot at the Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship in the process.
Trainer Peter Green confirmed the target after his four-year-old mare had tenaciously won the Blakes Marine Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400m) against her own sex, 10 days after snaring a Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle.
“Star Mission is going well and deserves her chance to run in this year’s series,” Green said this afternoon.
“It’s two and a half weeks to the second heat at home (March 4) over the same distance she won at today.
“And this qualifier is for provincial trainers only.
“I qualified Butch’n’Bugs for the Summer Provincial Series Final in January, 2021 but this will be my first runner in the Provincial-Midway Championship.
“Star Mission is a much stronger mare than at her first preparation, and it is showing in her form as her three wins have all come this time in work.
“She was the heaviest she has ever been when I saddled her today.”
Star Mission ($9) was given a cosy run by Louise Day, who had her away smartly before settling behind the leaders and then taking a sizeable gap on straightening.
The mare refused to surrender and held out fancied pair Dark Jewel ($2.80) and fellow Hawkesbury representative, Brad Widdup’s The Halo ($2.50 favorite), to clinch the third victory of her 13-start career, and she has also been placed on five occasions.
Green gave deserved credit to Day, who has been aboard the mare in all but one of her runs – and has partnered her in all three wins.
“Star Mission is not the easiest horse to ride, and Louise does a terrific job on her,” he said.
“That was her only ride today as her second booking was scratched.”
Star Mission’s second win in a row was the third time experienced horseman Green has doubled up in his thoroughbred training career.
Respun won consecutive races at Bathurst and Kembla Grange in January/February 2018, and Butch’n’Bugs repeated the dose at Nowra and Kembla Grange in April/May 2022.
Green and his racing manager brother Clint paid only $6000 for Star Mission as a yearling after she was initially sold for $25,000 as a weanling.
The Star Turn four-year-old is the first foal of the versatile Snitzel mare Circle Game, whose three wins were all at Canberra; two of them at 1200m and the other at 2000m.
. The Godolphin momentum continued at Hawkesbury with James Cummings claiming a double with his only two runners, propelling him further ahead in this season’s trainers’ premiership.
Cummings’ victories with Stanislaus ($2.60 favorite) in the Sky Racing 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m) and Sequestered ($3.10 second favorite) in the Lander Toyota Maiden Plate (1400m) took him to 13 winners, seven ahead of his nearest rival.
Brenton Avdulla picked up two successful replacement rides on Stanislaus and Eyeque ($4.20 favorite in the St Johns Park Bowling Club Class 1 Handicap, 1300m) from Josh Parr (suspended) and Brad Rawiller respectively.
The double lifted him to six Hawkesbury winners so far this season, trailing Rachel King (8) and Sam Clipperton (7), who edged closer to the leader by scoring on Sequestered.
. Jockey Lee Magorrian and apprentice Hannah Williams were suspended following the running of the last race, the Clarendon Tavern CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400m).
Magorrian, who scored earlier on Cable Tie ($12) in the TAB.com.au 3YO Maiden Handicap (1100m), was outed for using the whip 11 times prior to the 100m on Stonecraft ($6).
Stewards declined to exercise their rights to lodge a formal protest when they could not be comfortably satisfied that his mount had gained an advantage in finishing third.
This was the jockey’s sixth whip offence since last September, and his suspension begins on Sunday and ends on March 5, when he may ride again.
Williams’ elation at breaking through in the provincial area on last race winner Kaptanui ($31) for Goulburn trainer Matt Dale was tempered when she was outed on a careless riding charge.
It is a brief suspension however, which starts on February 21 and ends two days later.