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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


FRIDAY: July 7, 2023: KEMBLA Grange trainer Ben Smith has settled on a weekend Hawkesbury assignment for dual venue acceptor Lara’s Laulet – and made a number of changes to hopefully turn her into a winner.

The lightly-raced three-year-old will contest the XXXX Gold F&M Maiden Handicap (1300m) on Sunday rather than a Provincial Maiden Plate (1300m) against all sexes at Newcastle tomorrow.

Lohnro filly Lara’s Laulet, who races in the same colours as yesterday’s Taree winner Orthie’s Girls, has started only four times for two seconds; the latest when an odds-on favorite and beaten a half-length by Zephyr Wings in a Midway Maiden Plate (1300m) at Hawkesbury on June 29.

“She loomed up to win that day, but just floated and went with them,” Smith said this morning of his decision to put blinkers on the filly.

“I’ve given her a couple of short, sharp gallops at home since with the aim of teaching her how to win by going past another horse.

“Lara’s Laulet has worked in the blinkers, and there’s been no problem.

“The Hawkesbury race looks very suitable, and hopefully she can break through even with the big weight (61kg).”

As well as putting blinkers on Lara’s Laulet, Smith has also decided not to use ear muffs pre-race on the filly.

“She’s a rising four-year-old mare and pretty settled now,” he said. “There’s no need to keep using them.”

As well as the gear changes, Smith has also switched jockeys, giving the Hawkesbury mount to Robyn Freeman.

Christian Reith has partnered Lara’s Laulet at her two runs since joining Smith’s Kembla barn, finishing a close fourth in an 1100m Maiden on the Kensington track 15 days before she ran at Hawkesbury.

“Robyn comes down three to four days a week to ride work, and has ridden this filly in her gallops,” he explained.

Dual Group 1 winning trainer Smith, who returned to the industry late last year after a lengthy stint on the sidelines, has prepared seven winners so far in his comeback and is looking forward to a new full season.

“I’ve got 45 horses on the books, and some nice young ones,” he said. “It’s all going well.”

With Lara’s Laulet heading to Hawkesbury, stablemate Liangelo, who is an emergency in the Blakes Marine CG&E Maiden Handicap (1300m) there, instead will go to Newcastle to run in the same race his stablemate was an acceptor for, with Freeman also the rider.

Hawkesbury co-trainer Jason Attard is looking to keep three-year-old Leandra’s unbeaten home record intact in Sunday’s Team Thoroughbred NSW Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1500m) – and Rachel King is back aboard.

The Choisir filly’s two wins have both been at Hawkesbury, and King partnered her in a breakthrough 1300m Provincial Maiden Handicap victory on May 18.

She was away on holidays when Jason Collett won a Class 1 Handicap (1300m) on her on June 29.

“I don’t usually back Leandra up 10 days later, but she was fresh and hadn’t raced for a month when she scored at Hawkesbury last time,” Attard said this morning.

“She has trained on well, and I’ve got no doubt stepping up a further 200m will suit her even better.”

Team Attard has decided against chasing another victory with the promising Ruby Flyer in Sunday’s Pioneer Services Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m).

Ruby Flyer has won three of his last four starts – the latest a runaway Newcastle victory over that distance on June 24 – but the Flying Artie four-year-old’s 61kg was the catalyst for bypassing the race.

“Instead, we will give Ruby Flyer his chance in town in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at Randwick next Saturday,” Jason Attard said.

Along with Leandra, the stable also has opted to run dual acceptor Kozluca (Brandon Lerena) in the same race Ruby Flyer will miss.

The Exosphere gelding is yet to place in five starts this preparation, but improvement was noted in his latest fourth to Malabar in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m) at Hawkesbury on June 29.

RacingNSW stewards reported he jumped awkwardly, and was beaten less than two lengths.

. Hawkesbury course manager Kyle Cassim this morning posted a “Soft 6” rating. The track has received 7mm of rain in the past week, but nothing in the last 24 hours. The rail is out 4m from the 1100m to the 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder.

Th Godolphin Family Fun Day meeting (it’s FREE entry for children under 18 years of age) begins at 12.01pm and pulls down the curtain on Hawkesbury’s racing season.

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