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  • John Curtis


Photography by Bradley Photos

FRIDAY: March 5, 2021: JASON Attard and his wife Lucy Keegan-Attard 12 months ago at their home track excitedly qualified Munich for the Provincial Championships Final at Royal Randwick a few weeks later.

Unfortunately for the popular Hawkesbury couple, having their first runner together as a training partnership in a $500,000 feature wasn’t to be.

A subsequent setback with the now five-year-old, a high-priced yearling purchase, left them with no option but to pull the pin.

Undaunted, they’re back tomorrow with the same horse – plus a gear change – having another crack in their home track qualifier to get a second shot at the $500,000 Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 10 (Day 2 of The Championships).

Rory Hutchings will ride Munich ($26), one of four local hopes in the $150,000 1400m heat, which provides the three placegetters with berths in the 15-horse Final line-up.

Garry White will be represented by Brown Thomas (Grant Buckley) and Claire Lever, in her first season of training, will saddle Grace Bay (Chad Lever) and Diva Bella (Adrian Layt).

Winkers go on Munich, who has been specifically set for the Provincial Championships and has pleased Team Attard this time in work.

“Naturally it was very disappointing not to be able to run in last year’s final, but the owners have been fantastic and were prepared to be patient and aim Munich at this year’s series,” Jason Attard said last night.

“His first-up run at Gosford carrying a big weight was really good, and he probably was a bit too close in the run when second up on the Kensington track.

“Rory (Hutchings) came out and rode Munich work on Tuesday morning, and was very happy with him.

“He is fitter for the two runs back, and can definitely run well back on his home track.”

Munich, a son of renowned sire Snitzel, fetched $750,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions yearling sale, but was put on market after five NSW starts, which yielded placings at Warwick Farm, Canterbury and Hawkesbury – but no wins.

He was sold online through Inglis Digital in February, 2019 to Singapore-based Arexevan Racing for $45,000 and joined the Gold Coast stable of Toby Edmonds, who won first-up with him later that month in a Doomben Maiden Plate (1050m).

After only one more Queensland run, he was transferred to Team Attard at Hawkesbury, and was placed at four of his first seven starts for the couple, culminating with his close third at $11 to Moana Jewel in last year’s Hawkesbury heat.

That form was confirmed when Moana Jewel finished second to the talented Gosford sprinter Through The Cracks in the Provincial Final.

Claire Lever is confident both her four-year-old mares Grace Bay ($10) and Diva Bella ($15) will be very competitive.

Grace Bay was unplaced at Canberra in May last year at her only 1400m attempt to date, whilst Diva Bella is tackling the distance for the first time.

“Grace Bay came up quickly last preparation and was probably at the end of that campaign when she raced at Canberra,” Lever said.

“We’ve always felt she would get 1400m, and is definitely a stronger mare now.

“I’m confident that this is the right race to try her again at the trip.

“There were excuses for Diva Bella at Canterbury last time (she finished fifth to Brazen Gem over 1250m and Grace Bay was second), and she should relish the 1400m.

“Grace Bay makes her own luck whereas Diva Bella gets back and will need luck, but the barriers (Grace Bay has 13 and her stablemate six) might even that up.

“Both mares are fit and ready to perform well.”

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has five acceptors, and named Sequana ($6.50) and Frozen In Time ($10) as his best chances.

“Sequana is a progressive lightly-raced filly who won first-up at Scone, and Frozen In Time has been racing well in town and has drawn the inside,” Lees said.

Lees withdrew Frozen In Time from the opening heat at Newcastle last Saturday when she drew poorly, and qualified second and third placegetters Cristal Breeze and Animate.

In a wide open Hawkesbury heat, Kembla Grange-trained Gemmahra (Winona Costin) this morning was a $5.50 favorite.

. The rail is in the TRUE position for the meeting, and a “Good 4” rating was posted this morning with a penetrometer reading of 5.03.

. Paul Joice’s selections are:

RACE 1: OCEANIC FLASH, Sacramento Joe, Singapura.

RACE 2: LEGAL CHALLENGE, Members Only, Hirondelle.

RACE 3: BEYLIKS, Green Kudos, A Very Fine Red.

RACE 4: JERONIMOS, Obvious Step, Sian.

RACE 5: CLOSE TO ME, Conscript, Testa’s Flower.

RACE 6: VITTORIOSA, Whelk, War Baron.

RACE 7: VUCETICH, Macleay, Cliffs Of Moher.

RACE 8: SEQUANA, Oakfield Hiawatha, Gemmahra.


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