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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis

RYAN TICKS THE FIRST-UP BOX - TWICE


SUNDAY: June 18, 2023: IN his near two and a half years of training Blake Ryan had never achieved a first-up win with a horse in his care.

That was until the last week – and he went within a whisker of doing in three times in a row.

The Hawkesbury horseman has had a really good past seven days, and almost an unforgettable one.

Ryan scored first-up with I Am Brazen ($6) on his home track last Sunday, and again with recent acquisition Shadow Raiders ($4 favorite) at Kembla Grange yesterday.

Unfortunately, Deep Field filly Ausbred Mimosa ($5), making her debut, was narrowly beaten in a 1000m Maiden Handicap at Goulburn last Friday.

“At least I have now ticked that box, and to do it three times in a week would have been fantastic,” Ryan said today.

“Nonetheless, to get two of our team to win first-up has been very satisfying.”

Ryan was keen to buy a stylish son of 2017 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap winner Impending at the Magic Millions yearling sale on the Gold Coast in January 2021 on the eve of beginning his training career.

He missed out, but in an ironic twist is now training that horse, who races as Shadow Raiders.

With the experienced Danny Beasley aboard, the now three-year-old gelding did a terrific job to overcome his outside alley and take a 1300m Maiden Plate at Kembla Grange yesterday.

“Shadow Raiders is a really good type, and I took a liking to him and tried to buy him at that Magic Millions sale,” Ryan explained.

“I wasn’t the underbidder, but wasn’t far off getting him either when he went for $240,000.

“Mark Newnham trained Shadow Raiders for his first two starts, and I am very appreciative of him recommending a dozen horses be transferred to me when he relocated to Hong Kong.

“The horse came to me in great order on May 1, and I was thrilled to win with him first-up on the back of two nice trials at Hawkesbury and Rosehill Gardens.”

The trick now for his new trainer is to keep Shadow Raiders for an extended period, as he is almost certain to race in Hong Kong at some stage.

“He is owned there, and it will largely depend on what rating he gets as to how long he stays with me,” Ryan said.

“Shadow Raiders has pulled up well and I’ll continue to prepare him and not worry about when he might go to Hong Kong.

“He will take further improvement from yesterday’s race, and there is a Class 1 Handicap (1400m) at Kembla Grange on Saturday week or a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m) for three-year-olds on the Kensington track four days later to choose from.”

Ryan’s victory with Shadow Raiders was his sixth this season, and 16th overall.

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