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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: May 23, 2022: COURSE manager Rick Johnston is confident tomorrow’s rescheduled Hawkesbury meeting will proceed provided there is no further heavy rain.

A total of 12mm of in the last 24 hours forced a downgrade to a “Heavy 9” rating for the seven-race program, which was originally to have been held at Newcastle.

“We’ve had to do some fill after racing here last Thursday, but I’m happy with the condition of the track,” Johnston said this morning.

“It’s overcast at present with some sunny breaks, and we should be right if we don’t get heavy rain overnight.

“The rail was 3m out from the 1100m to 450m for last Thursday’s nine-race meeting, and it will stay in that position tomorrow.”

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup and Rosehill Gardens trainer David Payne between them have five acceptors for the opening event, the HRC Motel 2YO Handicap (1400m).

However, that may be reduced to four as Widdup indicated this morning that he is likely to rely solely on early favorite Deft Leopard (Jay Ford), and keep stablemate Treasurer for another day.

And Deft Leopard’s performance will have a major bearing on the colt keeping his manhood.

“He is a lovely horse but his racing smarts just aren’t totally there at present, although they are getting better,” Widdup said.

“Deft Leopard’s performances will determine whether we get him cut (gelded).”

A $375,000 Gold Coast yearling purchase last year for BK Racing & Breeding and their racing manager Ben Vassallo, the Deep Field youngster finished down the track on debut at the Kensington track on New Year’s Day over 1150m before having a break and returning (with blinkers on) when third on a ‘Heavy 10’ over 1400m at Warwick Farm on May 11.

“I’ve been happy with his progress since that race, and expect him to run well again tomorrow,” Widdup added.

Deft Leopard is the first foal of the Exceed And Excel mare Speedy Kitty, whose racing career was limited to only three starts in Victoria.

David Payne intends to run his trio of two-year-olds, Monastery (Jason Collett), Monfiducia (Alysha Collett), and Shalaya (apprentice Zac Lloyd).

Payne has opted for a gear change on So You Think gelding Monastery, putting blinkers on him for tomorrow’s assignment.

“Hopefully that will help him focus better,” Payne said.

Whilst Monastery, who brought only $35,000 when also sold at the Gold Coast last year, has a clear call over Monfiducia in current markets, Payne has a different view.

“There isn’t much between them,” he said. “The filly (Monfiducia) keeps improving.”

Monastery (second) and Monfiducia (fourth) contested the same recent Warwick Farm race as Deft Leopard.

Monastery rises 2.5kg to 58kg for his second placing, whereas Deft Leopard (57kg to 58kg) and Monfiducia (54kg to 55kg) have only a 1kg increase.

Vadamos filly Monfiducia races in the same colours as her multiple Group 1 winning stablemate Montefilia.

Californiachoicest (Kerrin McEvoy) was the highest priced yearling of tomorrow’s 2YO Maiden line-up, having fetched $800,000 at last year’s Inglis Australian Easter session.

The Redoute’s Choice colt, whose granddam Alinghi, the now deceased former outstanding race mare who won 10 (including four Group 1s) of her 16 starts, has raced only twice to date.

Californiachoicest, who will be minus winkers tomorrow, didn’t handle the heavy ground when he failed on resumption at Canterbury on April 20, but has since beaten six rivals in winning a 1050m trial at Randwick on May 6.

McEvoy also has been booked for dual acceptor Irish Kisses in the Vale Sid Kelly OAM Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1300m).

The jockey is against Widdup’s Deft Leopard in the 2YO Maiden tomorrow, but will be in the same corner when he teams with the trainer to partner Global Ausbred in Saturday’s $1m Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm.

Widdup also has recent Scone first-up Ortensia Stakes winner Vulpine running in the Listed Helen Coughlan Stakes (1200m) against her own sex at the Eagle Farm meeting, and Scone placegetter Outlook in a Benchmark 80 Handicap (2200m) at the newly created Doomben meeting next Monday.

The stablemates will be floated to Queensland on Thursday night.

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