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  • John Curtis


MONDAY: February 22, 2021: HUSBAND and wife training partners Mitchell and Desiree Kearney began the season in the best possible manner, celebrating their first city success with Heza Gentleman at Warwick Farm on August 12 last year.

Another victory followed three weeks later with Eerised - but then the winners dried up.

So the Hawkesbury couple was understandably delighted when Jonjo’s Comet hoisted them back into the winning list at Bathurst today, and what a win it was!

Ridden by Serg Lisnyy, Jonjo’s Comet ($9) was a clear last on the home turn, but finished powerfully wide on the track to edge out the $3.80 favorite Rocketing To Win in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1308m).

Zoutenant ($26) stayed on the inside and finished a close third.

There was added pleasure for the Kearneys, as Jonjo’s Comet is the last foal of the Tubougg mare Fabulash, the first horse Mitch Kearney raced, although he didn’t train her.

The 16-year-old mare, who was retired from breeding in 2016, also foaled Jonjo’s Comet’s younger half-brother Eerised (by Widden Valley), coincidentally Team Kearney’s previous winner at Muswellbrook on September 3 last year.

A six-year-old son of Tickets, Jonjo’s Comet also won his first race at Bathurst in July, 2019.

He had been placed seven times since before today’s overdue breakthrough, and the Kearneys were delighted with winning rider Lisnyy.

“That was only Serg’s third ride for us, and he had been placed at his first two,” Mitch Kearney said en route home.

“We might have inadvertently found a new way to ride Jonjo’s Comet.

“Usually, he races up on the pace, but was a bit tardy away today and then really finished the race off strongly after Serg cut the corner and got him to the outside.”

Jonjo’s Comet has been a real challenge for the Hawkesbury couple.

“He has bled once (when he raced at Hawkesbury in September, 2019) and as a result we have to be careful how we train him, limiting the amount of work we do,” Mitch Kearney explained.

“Hopefully that win today will influence some new owners to join our stable. We retired a few horses and now have only eight in work, so we could do with a few more.”

Team Kearney’s Bathurst victory following on from leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s earlier win with Miss Magnum boosted to 26 the number of winners produced from the provincial track in not quite the first two months of the new year.

Widdup clinched his 17th success of the season when $5 chance Miss Magnum (Alysha Collett) beat Sea Stitch ($13) and Miss Jay Fox ($3.30) in the Maiden Plate (1108m) for three-year-olds and upwards.

Raced by a Darby Racing syndicate, the Magnus filly was a $15,000 “cheapie” in Adelaide as a yearling, and her trainer isn’t surprised she is showing ability.

“Darby Racing gave me her older half-sister Pleasantries (by Foxwedge) to train and I won races with her at Hawkesbury and Kembla Grange from the only two starts I gave her,” Widdup said this evening.

“This filly (Miss Magnus) has really jumped out of the ground since I put blinkers on her.”

Widdup started Miss Magnum only twice as an early three-year-old, and she resumed with a first-up second over 1000m at Muswellbrook on February 8.

He has confirmed Tom Sherry again will partner Golden Eagle runner-up Icebath at Royal Randwick on Saturday in the $200,000 Group 2 Guy Walter Proven Thoroughbreds Stakes (1400m).

HOOFNOTE: Miss Magnum is the last Australian foal of her dam, the American-bred mare Polite, who was exported to the Philippines in 2018.

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