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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: March 23, 2023: HAWKESBURY trainer Blake Ryan is always happy to win a race anywhere, especially on his home track.

And he has extra incentive to win there tomorrow with both his runners, as one is part-owned by his wife Jess and the other by his father, leading Rosehill Gardens trainer Gerald Ryan.

Jay Ford partners Separatist ($6 with in the Sky Racing CG&E Maiden Handicap (1100m), and Kerrin McEvoy rides Gulf Of Panama ($6.50) in the Pioneer Services Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Ryan paid $160,000 for Separatist at the 2021 Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast, and wife Jess is both the majority shareholder and syndicate manager.

“It’s hard to believe Separatist is still a maiden after eight starts,” Ryan said today.

“He has natural ability, and is the only horse I have ever debuted in town (fifth to Airman in an 1100m 2YO Maiden on the Kensington track last June).

“Separatist has been a very frustrating horse, and very immature mentally, but not physically.

“He ran fifth to a promising horse of Brad Widdup’s (Jedibeel) in a Provincial Maiden at Hawkesbury on March 14, and backing him up nine days later, I’m hoping we will be able to come out neutral and ride him a bit quieter to allow him to finish off his race.

“I thought he was a 1400m horse but he raced too aggressively, so he is staying at the same distance (1100m) as his last start.

“As well as Jess, some of my close mates are also in Separatist, and it would be terrific to win with him tomorrow.

“But win, lose or draw he is going to the paddock afterwards.”

Ryan doesn’t want to see forecast rain arrive before Separatist’s race, otherwise he may be an absentee, but it’s the opposite with Gulf Of Panama, who will appreciate the sting out of the ground.

Gulf Of Panama is a Lonhro four-year-old who has started only three times in his career – and once for his new trainer.

“Gulf Of Panama ran second on debut at Warwick Farm in December 2021, and then broke down when favorite on the Beaumont track at Newcastle on Boxing Day at his next start 25 days later,” Ryan explained.

“He chipped both front knees and required an operation, and his previous owner Sun Stud gave him to Dad.

“Gulf Of Panama had to have a long break, and Gerald decided to send him out to Hawkesbury where I can put him in a paddock during the day to give him some freedom rather than have him boxed all the time.

“After such a lengthy time off the scene, he has had a steady build-up and after two trials (the latest when second at Hawkesbury on February 21), Dad decided to leave him with me.

“Golf Of Panama is a lovely horse with a quiet nature, and I was happy with his first run after more than 14 months when fifth to Sports Legend in an 1100m Maiden Plate on the Kensington track on March 8.

“That was too short for him, and tomorrow’s 1300m is as well, but he has a favorable draw and it would be nice to see him settle in the first four and run well.

“Obviously, because of what he has been through, he remains a race to race proposition, but for now continues to do well.”

Ryan has opted for visors on Gulf Of Panama tomorrow, saying he prefers them to winkers.

“I’m a big fan of visors,” he said. “With the slits, they still permit them to see other horses a bit and I’m sure they will help him tomorrow having drawn near the inside.”

With early $3 favorite Bespangled running today on the Kensington track, there will be a market reshuffle once he is withdrawn from tomorrow’s engagement.

But Better Not Bitter (Chad Schofield) won’t oppose stablemate Bespangled today, and instead will be a rival for Gulf Of Panama at Hawkesbury.

Tearaway trainers’ premiership front-runner James Cummings (15 wins at Hawkesbury this season), is without a representative tomorrow, but the chasing pack of Brad Widdup, Chris Waller and Nathan Doyle (all on seven wins) are competing.

Widdup has Uncut Gem, Tambourine Man, Sacred Girl, Mosca Luna, and Stellar Performer in action, Waller relies on his solitary runner Marelle, and Doyle has Dame Cartland, Miss Scalini and Mehajir engaged.

. The rail is in the TRUE position for tomorrow’s meeting, and course manager Rick Johnston this morning posted a “Soft 5” rating. Hawkesbury has had 3mm of rain in the last 24 hours, and overall 15mm in the past seven days.

Current premiership standings are:


J. Cummings 15

B. Widdup 7

C. Waller 7

N. Doyle 7

J. O’Shea 5

J. Thompson 5


R. King 8

S. Clipperton 7

B. Avdulla 6

K. Latham 6

T. Schiller 6

Z. Lloyd 6


T. Schiller 6

Z. Lloyd 6

D. Gibbons 4

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