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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: February 20, 2022: WHO says lightning doesn’t strike twice?

Hawkesbury trainer Blake Ryan can attest that it does, having won at the same Orange meeting yesterday where he started his career on a successful note exactly 12 months ago.

And both winners were having their first starts for their new trainer.

Ryan’s inaugural runner Divine Future, previously prepared by his father Gerald and Sterling Alexiou, broke through in a 1280 Maiden Handicap last year as an odds-on favorite.

This time, Miss Nic’N Off was a more generous price and landed the Maiden Plate (1000m) yesterday at $12, having joined the young horseman’s Hawkesbury stable from Warwick Farm’s Bjorn Baker only a few weeks ago.

She was Ryan’s fourth winner this season – and sixth overall – and all have been ridden by different jockeys.

Jake Pracey-Holmes had the mount yesterday on Miss Nic’N Off, who prevailed over So Extra ($16) and Just Ace ($31) in all-outsiders’ finish.

Ryan, not only delighted to win another race at Orange on the first anniversary of his inaugural runner, was especially pleased to break through so quickly with his new acquisition for a syndicate, which includes Brisbane doctor Bruce Flegg.

“I have never met Bruce, but on the recommendation of a friend, he bought 50 per cent of a Deep Field filly, one of the first yearlings I purchased to train,” Ryan said today.

“She is yet to race, and then out of the blue I got a phone call asking if I would take this filly (Miss Nic’N Off).

“Bruce was an officiating doctor at the Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast last month, but unfortunately I never got the chance to introduce myself in person.

“We spoke on the phone 20 minutes after yesterday’s race, and naturally he was thrilled to get a win on the board with Miss Nic’N Off.

“The filly had been unplaced in her first three runs, but she ran her best race on debut when fifth at Orange toward the end of last year, and when I saw this race in the calendar, I thought we would give it a try.

“I took blinkers off, and didn’t really know what to expect from her, having had her for only three weeks.”

Ryan returned from the Magic Millions sales with three yearlings; colts by Menari and Bull Point and a filly by American Pharoah.

“The Bull Point youngster has been gelded, and I think he might be an early comer next season,” he said.

Ryan has decided to spell Etheridge, who campaigned in both Queensland and Victoria recently.

The Roman Emperor mare ran sixth in the MM Trophy (2400m) at the Gold Coast on January 15 before finishing eighth at her first attempt at 3000m in a Benchmark 70 Handicap at Sandown on February 2 when she was well in the market ($6 second favorite).

. Ryan has all but ruled out having a representative in this year’s expanded edition of the Provincial-Midway Championships.

“I had been thinking about giving Calgary King a chance in one of the heats if he had won at Goulburn last Thursday, but he was caught in the closing stages of the final race of the Rising Star series for apprentices,” he said.

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