Nick Mitchell was inches from having a runner in the Provincial Championships final at Royal Randwick The Championships when Dream Lane finished fourth at Newcastle’s qualifier, but now he has a second chance.
To get that close though and not qualify, it was a bit gut-wrenchingNick Mitchell
And it’s at his home track.
Hawkesbury will stage the last of five $100,000 Provincial Championships qualifiers (1400m) on Thursday with the last three spots up for grabs in the rich $400,000 final on April 9.
Dream Lane missed out on finishing in the first three at Newcastle’s qualifier when Hetty Heights, Marple Miss and Electric Power just edged past her.
Mitchell said even though she had to take a big leap to compete with the powerhouse stable runners from the Kim Waugh and Kris Lees yards she took it in her stride and is enjoying her racing this time in.
“She’s pulled up very well from that run,” Mitchell said.
“She worked on Wednesday morning and you wouldn’t know she’d even had a race on the Sunday.
“She just had a few things go against her that day. She got pushed back a bit and ended up running on the worst part of the track and lost momentum.
“It was a huge run considering I threw her in the deep end against some very good horses.
“To get that close though and not qualify, it was a bit gut-wrenching.”
But now she gets another chance to combine with local jockey Grant Buckley again and book her ticket.
Mitchell said he was going into Thursday’s quietly confident.
“I didn’t even give her a barrier trial this preparation so she’s coming into this third-up which I think is ideal. She’s 100 per cent spot on for this,” he said.
“We’re riding her quiet and she now seems to know what she’s doing. She’s improving all the time and I’m not saying she can win the whole thing but I think she can qualify.
“She’s very professional now, always tries her best and she and Bucko know the Hawkesbury grass well.”
Meanwhile, fellow Hawkesbury trainer Jason Attard saddles up Shalmaneser which has arrived at his stables from the Scott Singelton yard.
Attard was looking at longer distances for the Teofilo five-year-old, but couldn’t resist the temptation to have a crack at a $100,000 race in his backyard.
“I think he’s going to be at his best over 1800 metres but it’s worth having a shot at this race given the prize money,” Attard said.
Despite looking for further later in his preparation, Shalmaneser has shown he can sprint fresh in the past and has won first-up and is a two-time winner at his home track.
“If he’s going to do something over 1400 metres it will definitely be first-up so I couldn’t ignore this race. It’s ideal for him,” Attard said.
- Matt Jones has had a keen interest in horse racing since backing Jeune in the 1994 Melbourne Cup. After university he covered racing for Fairfax for five years before joining Racing NSW to write for its magazine and website. thechampionships.com.au