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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: August 29, 2023: THE monkey’s off their back – and with a $61 winner!

Popular Hawkesbury husband and wife trainers Mitch and Desiree Kearney put a frustrating five months behind them when roughie Mycah Leon hoisted them back into the winning list at Newcastle today.

Ridden by Heavelon Van Der Hoven, Mycah Leon worked across from an outside barrier to trail $101 outsider War Wings in the Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1400m), then hit the front in the straight and gave plenty to lead home a Hawkesbury quinella, holding off Wayne Austin’s Jabali Belle ($3.70).

Team Kearney had not won a race since April 1 when Lady Shenanigans was successful in a Benchmark 66 Handicap (1250m) at Taree, and had endured a number of placings since.

As well, they culled in recent weeks five of their team which weren’t performing well enough and now have eight horses in work.

“It makes the trip back home a lot more pleasant,” said co-trainer Desiree Kearney.

“We wouldn’t normally have backed up Mycah Leon so quickly after he finished a close fourth in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1300m) at Scone eight days ago.

“However, he was in such good order that we decided to run him again, although we were hoping for a soft track (the gelding’s only other win was on a heavy surface at Hawkesbury in May last year at a meeting transferred from Kembla Grange).

“But it was a ‘Good 4’ and he still handled it well.”

Team Kearney took over Mycah Leon’s preparation from a Sydney stable after the first five starts of his career resulted in four country placings.

Tony Borg, who coached Mitch Kearney when he played under 13s rugby league for St Clair in the Penrith competition, promised the couple a horse to train – and was true to his word.

A well-named five-year-old son of All American - Micah Leon is an American quarterback (footballer) - the gelding didn’t fire at his last preparation.

“He may have had a silent virus and just wasn’t putting in, and his form tapered off,” Desiree Kearney said.

“So we gave him a good break after he failed to win or place in seven starts, and Tony decided he wouldn’t continue with him.

“He tried to sell him, but was offered only $1000 and we came to an arrangement where I leased 75 per cent of him and he kept the other 25 per cent.

“Tony was thrilled to see Mycah Leon win another race today, as we were.”

Hawkesbury claimed a double at the Newcastle meeting with Royal Randwick trainer John O’Shea’s second stable landing the following race, the Class 1/Maiden Plate (1850m) with Condrieu ($5).

Ridden by Alysha Collett, Condrieu easily upset the $1.70 favorite Diabelli, with fellow Hawkesbury representatives, Karen Outtrim’s Mr Luke ($13) and Brad Widdup’s Owari ($5.50) third and fourth respectively.

A lightly-raced Sebring mare who had barrier issues and trialled 10 times before making her debut when placed at Newcastle over 1400m last September, she has now won twice and been placed on three occasions.

Condrieu fetched $250,000 when offered as a Magic Millions yearling at the Gold Coast in 2019.

. The double took the Hawkesbury training base to 14 winners so far in the first month of the new season.

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