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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Updated: Feb 13, 2023

SUNDAY: February 12, 2023: ORANGE has proven a happy hunting ground for Hawkesbury trainers Terry Croft and Colin Besters.

Croft won his fifth race at the track (and has also had 10 placegetters from 44 starters), and Besters his second (he has also had two placegetters from only five runners) when both were successful at yesterday’s TAB meeting.

Croft claimed his third win of the season when Jeune Dreamon ($6) landed the Maiden Handicap (1290m) in a tight finish, whilst Besters became Hawkesbury’s 23rd winning trainer so far this season, courtesy of Zanshin’s victory in the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1010m).

Jeune Dreamon, a Dream Ahead four-year-old, was having his 14th start for his breeder-owner Tony Kelly and had been placed twice prior to his Orange assignment.

“I thought he might win a race one day, but wasn’t sure where it would be,” Croft said today.

“The Orange race was an afterthought as we had planned to start him at Port Macquarie last Sunday in a 1206m Maiden Handicap.

“As he hadn’t raced for a few weeks, I ran him in a 900m Maiden Plate at Newcastle on January 28 to fit him for the Port Macquarie race.

“Unfortunately, he was second emergency and didn’t get a start, so then Orange came on the radar.”

Ridden by Ken Dunbar, Jeune Dreamon finally shed his maiden status when he scraped home from Poppy’s Girl ($7.50) and $2.15 favorite Miss Boom Boom in a three-way battle to the post.

Whilst Croft certainly isn’t setting sights high with the gelding, it’s a much different story with his promising three-year-old Kandos Cosmos, whom he hopes to get to the $2m Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 1 on the opening day of The Championships.

Kandos Cosmos (currently at $51 for the classic) had a short break after an excellent third to hotpot Kovalica in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m) at Eagle Farm on December 17, and his trainer says the Stratum Star colt is ticking over nicely.

“I’m looking to trial him at Hawkesbury on Tuesday week, and kick him off in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on March 4,” Croft said.

“All going well, Kandos Cosmos will then go to the Rosehill Guineas a fortnight later and the Derby a fortnight after that.”

The $600,000 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 18 is a Group 1 as well as the Derby.

. Besters and partner Vicki Norman purchased Zanshin online for $1750 in May, 2021 – and her two wins for them have both been at Orange.

Given a nice ride by mature apprentice Damon Budler, well-backed Zanshin ($4.60) yesterday made light of her 60.5kg and was too strong for $4.20 favorite Ice On Fire, who made the running.

The Dawn Approach five-year-old was Besters’ previous winner, also at Orange, in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m) on December 28, 2021 when ridden by Jeff Penza.

It was a welcome change of luck for Besters, who has only two horses in work and was on course yesterday to watch Zanshin win after being unable to go to Orange for her previous victory.

“I had hip surgery nearly 12 months ago, and an infection set in afterwards,” Besters said.

“I’m hoping to have the other hip done in the next couple of weeks.”

Besters opted to race Zanshin without blinkers yesterday following her previous unplaced run when a $151 outsider in a stronger provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) at Hawkesbury in mid-December – and the move paid off.

. Norm Lewis very nearly became Hawkesbury’s 24th trainer to win at least one race this season when Heavenly Prophet ($3.10) was nosed out in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m) at Nowra today.

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