• John Curtis


WEDNESDAY: October 20, 2021: THEIR schedules on home turf tomorrow could not be more contrasting – but each has a similar focus.

Husband and wife training duo Jason and Lucy Attard need to worry about only their sole representative, whilst fellow Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft for the first time in his career will have to put skates on to saddle runners in seven of the eight races.

Yet the inaugural running of the $700,000 The Four Pillars Midway (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday week is uppermost in both stables’ thoughts.

Only two vacancies remain to fill the 18-horse field, with Hawkesbury currently holding two of the confirmed 16 spots, courtesy of Edward Cummings’ Sunborn and Claire Lever’s Grace Bay (a Kensington starter in the last race today).

Thus the performances tomorrow of the Attard’s lightly-raced Coppersonic (Belle Property Hawkesbury F&M Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1500m) and Croft’s ageless veteran No Escape (XXXX Gold CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1500m) will indeed be crucial.

Last season’s Hawkesbury premiership winning rider Jason Collett partners his recent winner Coppersonic, whilst Jean Van Overmeire has the mount on nine-year-old No Escape, an eight-times winner.

After breaking through in a Maiden Plate over the same 1500m trip at Hawkesbury on September 23 at only her fourth start, Coppersonic was to have contested a 1600m Class 1 Handicap at Kembla Grange last Thursday, but did not run when the track started out as a “Heavy 10” and the meeting was called off midway through the program.

“We didn’t want to bust her on very heavy ground, and decided to wait another week,” Jason Attard said this morning.

“Coppersonic has trained on really well and, realistically, she needs to win this race tomorrow to be seriously considered for a spot in The Four Pillars.

“She is a fit mare, and at this stage of her preparation there would be no problem backing her up on Saturday week.”

Croft has been training for 40 years, and normally has around a dozen horses in work.

However, he is now looking after two Hawkesbury stables, having just taken over the care of Garry White’s horses whilst his licence has been put on hold by RacingNSW stewards.

“Our stables aren’t too far apart, and it made sense for Garry’s major client Grahame Mapp to leave the horses in their own environment rather than split them up amongst a number of trainers,” Croft explained.

Along with starting Straya Pride (HRC Motel 4YO&Up Maiden Plate, 1500m) and No Escape, he will also saddle Mr Mapp’s Fine Impact (Ladies Day 4 Nov 4YO&Up Maiden Handicap, 1300m), Hot Dancing (Lander Toyota Prov & Ctry Maiden Plate, 1300m), Winds Of War (Fowler Civil Contracting Class 1 Handicap, 1100m), Timely Shadow (in Coppersonic’s race), and Shadow Girl (Inglis Ready2Race 26 Oct Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap, 1800m).

Croft considers Straya Pride (Kathy O’Hara) is his best chance, but is also looking forward to No Escape producing a good showing to entice The Four Pillars slot holders who haven’t sealed a deal.

“Straya Pride had no luck at his last start at Hawkesbury when fourth (beaten just under two lengths) in a 1600m Maiden on October 10,” Croft said.

Stewards reported the gelding began awkwardly from his inside draw, then was held up for clear running from the 400m until after passing the 300m.

“Straya Pride finished the race off well and hasn’t been far away at all four runs this campaign,” Croft said.

“I wouldn’t overlook No Escape either. He is going well and I’d love to see him get a spot in The Four Pillars, especially if there is more rain.

“Don’t forget he has won twice at Rosehill, one of them over The Four Pillars 1500m on heavy ground.”

Croft has made a number of gear changes on several of the White horses now in his care.

Fine Impact is minus both blinkers and a cross-over nose band and has a lugging bit on along with ear muffs (pre-race), Winds Of War will race in a tongue tie, and Timely Shadow races without blinkers.

. The rail is 3m out from the 1100m to 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit. A “Good 4” rating was posted this morning by course manager Rick Johnston.

. Paul Joice’s selections are:

RACE 1: TUFFASK, Deniliquin, Straya Pride.

RACE 2: VITAE, Our Lancette, For Valour.

RACE 3: ADELINDA, What A Peach, Vanilli.

RACE 4: SMIRNOVA, Illustrating Law, Tympanist.

RACE 5: TILLOTSON, Sabalenka, Savourer.

RACE 6: CAPRI OF TUFFY, Showtime Lady, Obvious Step.

RACE 7: GARMISH, Long Weekend, Caesars Palace.

RACE 8: ZOUNIQUE, Van Gogh, Fine Ruby.


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