WEDNESDAY: April 12, 2023: TRAINER Edward O’Rourke is looking to make his mark at his new base at Hawkesbury when he saddles three runners at tomorrow’s home meeting.
The expatriate Irishman saddles Iron Man (Lewcon Air Conditioning CG&E Maiden Handicap, 1100m), Princess Mary (Bendigo Bank Maiden Plate, 1400m), and Artie’s Aura (Redbank Communities Provincial Class 1 Handicap, 1500m) – all for Ramsey Pastoral Pty Ltd.
Iron Man is a $2.80 co-favorite with TAB.com.au, Artie’s Aura is $3.80 second favorite, and Princess Mary is a $10 chance.
Rachel King, a previous Hawkesbury premiership winner and current leader this season, rides Iron Man and Princess Mary, and Zac Lloyd, fresh from a four-winner haul at Warwick Farm on Monday, partners Artie’s Aura.
O’Rourke, who clinched a metropolitan breakthrough with Ringerdingding at Rosehill Gardens in February 2018 when based at Royal Randwick, set up shop at Hawkesbury at the beginning of this season after moving back from Murwillumbah.
“I was a private trainer there and there weren’t a lot of opportunities,” O’Rourke said this morning.
“My partner is from Glenbrook and wanted to come back to be closer to her family, so Hawkesbury seemed the perfect place from which to train.
“It would have been nice to have had a couple of winners, but we’ve had only 11 starters since August for four placings.
“I’m on course and have 23 horses, and the majority of them are young ones.
“Hopefully, we can get one or two good results tomorrow.”
O’Rourke is looking forward to starting the lightly-raced Artie’s Aura, a five-year-old mare who has had only eight starts for a win and two placings.
“She had a lot of niggling issues when I took her over and, whilst she is fine now, we have to keep a close check on her,” he said.
“Artie’s Aura was a bit stiff first-up when fifth to Essonne (an unlucky runner last Saturday in the $500,000 Provincial-Midway Championship Final) in a Kembla Grange Qualifier in late February.
“I am forgetting her next failure at Rosehill on March 18 as she hasn’t performed in four second-up starts.
“I have been really happy with her since, and tomorrow’s race is a huge drop in class.
“Kerry Parker’s horse Hedge Fund obviously bears a lot of respect, but I’m expecting my mare to be hard to beat.
“Zac rode Artie’s Aura in the Kembla Qualifier and is happy to be back on her. He rode a couple of winners for me on the Northern Rivers when he was starting off, including an Open Handicap at Grafton on Zac Attack two years ago.”
O’Rourke is testing both Iron Man and Princess Mary for upcoming feature races.
“Iron Man has been second at both his starts, and got a bit sick after his last run when narrowly beaten at Newcastle over 1200m early last month.
“I was thinking about trialling him on the Beaumont track at Newcastle yesterday, but it made sense to stay home and run tomorrow.
“They might be a bit sharp for him at 1100m, but if he can finish off and run well, the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) on Saturday week is not out of the question.”
Dissident filly Princess Mary was second to Cosmic Field in a Provincial Maiden (1300m) at Hawkesbury last November at her only start, and beat five rivals (with King aboard) in a 1000m barrier trial at home on March 23.
“The form from the November race has worked out well,” O’Rourke said. “The horse that beat her that day, Cosmic Field, won a Class 1 at Kembla Grange at his next run and contested the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes at Randwick on the opening day of The Championships.
“This looks to be a pretty strong Maiden tomorrow (odds-on favorite Shipshape was runner-up at Warwick Farm last time out).
“We’re hoping Princess Mary can stay, and we would like to get her to the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm in early June, so this is a good starting point.”
Shipshape ($1.75) is one of three pre-post favorites for Godolphin’s James Cummings, who leads the Hawkesbury premiership with 16 wins so far this season. His apprentice Zac Lloyd will ride all three.
The others are Black Iris ($2.40) in the Cornucopia F&M Maiden Handicap (1100m), and Selous ($3.40) in the Peppercorn Services Inc Benchmark 68 Handicap (1000m).
. The rail is out 5m from the 1100m to 450m; 3m from 450m to winning post and TRUE for the remainder of the circuit. Racecourse manager Rick Johnston posted a “Soft 6” rating this morning. Hawkesbury has recorded 6.5mm of rain in the past week, but nothing in the last 24 hours.
CURRENT PREMIERSHIP STANDINGS:
J. Cummings 16
C. Waller 11
B. Widdup 8
N. Doyle 7
G. Ryan/S. Alexiou 7
J. O’Shea 6
R. King 8
S. Clipperton 7
Z. Lloyd (a) 7
T. Schiller (a) 7
B. Avdulla 6
K. Latham 6