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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: April 4, 2022: HOME is where the heart is!

And it will have a major bearing on the venue Hawkesbury trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard choose for their lightly-raced filly Isla this week.

Isla is an acceptor for the Pioneer Services Maiden Handicap (1400m) at their home track meeting tomorrow, and is also an entry for a Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1350m) at Wyong on Thursday.

“There are a few advantages about running Isla at Hawkesbury tomorrow even though it is probably a harder race than what Wyong appears to be, as it is restricted to provincial and country trainers,” Jason Attard said this morning.

“Aside from the fact the filly is trained here, she has also raced on the track and Kathy O’Hara, who rode her on debut and is booked again tomorrow, wouldn’t be available at Wyong on Thursday as she is going to the Goulburn meeting.”

Cleverly-named Star Turn three-year-old Isla is a chestnut daughter of Choisir mare Lohan, a winner in Sydney and Brisbane. Both actresses Isla Fisher and Lindsay Lohan are born redheads.

Raced by Kate Nivison’s Etak Thoroughbreds, she belied her odds ($61) on debut with an excellent fifth, beaten only a length, to Shorebreak in a 1300m Provincial & Country Maiden at Hawkesbury on March 24.

“It seems to be a family trait that Isla is a bit tricky to train, but she is a bit more settled in her work since that debut run,” Jason Attard said.

“She showed ability in that first start, and hopefully can display that again, even though she is going from a provincial and country Maiden to an open Maiden.”

Mojo Classic has been withdrawn from Isla’s Hawkesbury race, and another acceptor, Annabel Neasham’s Spiral Architect, is running at Scone today.

The Attards also have Whirling Dervish (Keagan Latham) lining up in the opening event, the HRC Motel Maiden Plate (1100m).

Unlike her stablemate Isla, the Dissident filly performed poorly on debut two days earlier, finishing a distant last of 11 in an 1150 Maiden on the Beaumont track at Newcastle.

However, she displayed some lameness in the near foreleg post-race.

“That performance was too bad to be true, and we’re experimenting with a cross-over nose band on her tomorrow,” Jason Attard explained.

Last season’s Hawkesbury premiership winning trainer Mark Newnham has named Assiduity and Toesonthenose as his best chances tomorrow.

Assiduity (Josh Parr) runs in the HRC Motel Maiden Plate, and Toesonthenose (Tom Sherry) is against Isla in the Pioneer Services Maiden Handicap.

Parr, chasing another Group 1 triumph on star Hawkesbury mare Duais at Royal Randwick on Saturday on Day 2 of The Championships, leads this season’s Hawkesbury jockey’s premiership with 12 wins, and Sherry (three wins) is the apprentices’ premiership front-runner.

Assiduity, a Deep Field three-year-old, raced only twice last November and was rested after finishing third in a Gosford Maiden (1200m) on November 24.

“Assiduity has strengthened up, and trialled nicely (second to Diamond Flare over 740m at Randwick on March 18),” Newnham said.

“He handles rain-affected ground, and I’m expecting him to run very well.

“Toesonthenose is another who raced twice at his first preparation, and showed he could handle soft ground when runner-up over 1350m at Newcastle on November 21 before a break.

“He also trialled nicely (over 1050m) at the same Randwick session on March 18, and should be suited by the 1400m first-up.”

Recent Hawkesbury winner Lukey Luke is one of the more interesting runners at tomorrow’s meeting.

The Denman three-year-old bolted away with a 1500m Maiden on heavy ground on March 24 at only his third start, and leading Kembla Grange trainer Gwenda Markwell accepted with him in last Saturday’s Group 1 ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.

However, he was an emergency and did not secure a start, and lines up now in the Living Turf Class 1 & Maiden Plate (2000m).

Keagan Latham again rides him, and he is currently a $2.80 second favorite with behind Derby winning trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s Lets’ Karaka Deel (Brodie Loy), who is at $2.60.

. The rail is 3m out from the 1100m to 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit. The track this morning was an improving “Heavy 8”, and course manager Rick Johnston believes a “Soft 7” rating in the morning is on the cards if the current weather stays fine.

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