Peter HedgesGILLIESTON Heights trainer-driver Peter Hedges believes his chances in the NSW Breeders Challenge heats at Newcastle are fighting for second place against two smart Sydney pacers tonight.
But second would do just fine.
Hedges will race Sporty Belle in the two-year-old fillies heat and I’m Saint Anthony in the two-year-old colts and geldings qualifier for the group1 series.
Winners will progress in the respective series and a second place will secure a spot in semi-finals if all 10 heats statewide are held. A fastest third place could also lead to a semis berth.
A change in rules means local pacers gain preference for starts in the respective NSW Breeders Challenge heats and Hedges is one of several Hunter trainers with chances tonight.
However, visitors, both from gate one, seemingly hold the upper hand in the heats. Paul Fitzpatrick’s Sally Fletcher will be the filly to beat, while Belinda McCarthy’s Ominous Warning should set the pace in the other $15,000 heat.
Hedges’ charges have both drawn six and he will drive for luck in the hope of snaring a place in the next round of the series.
‘‘I’m Saint Anthony’s a place hope,’’ Hedges said.
‘‘I don’t think we can beat the one. He’s a really nice horse of McCarthy’s, but my fella’s honest and hopefully he can run around the money somewhere.
‘‘Sally Fletcher’s a really nice horse and probably should have won the Gold Tiara at the Bathurst, but she galloped.
‘‘I think she will probably win the whole thing, to be honest.
‘‘But mine’s an honest pacer and only a little horse but she tries really hard.
‘‘She trialled well at Maitland on Monday, running fourth against older horses, and the other guy was third in his trial and did well also.’’
Hedges, who juggles a full-time job with driving locally and training his own small team, will also take the reins of Jedi Superstar for Ken Natty and Miss Aquaville for Darren Reay in other races on the 10-event card tonight.
■ Keinbah trainer Shane Tritton has reached the magical 100 winners for the season in NSW five weeks earlier than last year but he faces an uphill battle to crack the century in Newcastle.
Last year Tritton became the first Hunter Valley trainer to hit 100 winners in a NSW season but fell just five short of the mark at Newcastle alone, finishing on a remarkable 95.
He hit the ton statewide with four victories at Menangle last Saturday and of his 103 victories from 465 starters statewide, Tritton has racked up 59 at Newcastle in just under nine months of racing.
The numbers highlight the four-time defending Newcastle premiership winner’s great efforts and success outside the region this season.
Tritton told Harness Racing NSW he was happy to reach the century but had hoped to achieve it earlier this season after making a flying start to the campaign.
He praised the efforts of his drivers Lauren Panella, David Morris and Jack Trainor and his other stable staff.
Tritton also told HRNSW that Suave Stuey Lombo was scratched last Saturday night due to a virus which caused elevated temperatures in 14 of his horses.
He said all recovered quickly and Suave Stuey Lombo would lead a team of up to a dozen horses in a campaign at the Queensland winter carnival.
Ardghal, Yayas Hot Spot, Aspiring Artist, Marty Monkhouser and possibly stable star Mach Beauty and Light In Every Day would be among the team.
Meanwhile, after a busy night at Menangle tomorrow, Tritton and Panella will head to Dubbo on Sunday to race Pas Ultimate Delight in the $25,000 Red Ochre Mares Classic final.
■ Newcastle-Maitland Mini-Trotting Club will hold an information and training day at Stanford Merthyr Pony Club ground on Sunday from 8.30am.
HRNSW is helping the club stage the event designed to introduce children from five to 16 years of age to general horse care and mini trotting.
Horses and equipment will be supplied for the day, which is already fully booked.
Another day will be held soon and information can be found on nswminitrots南京夜网 or by calling 0418433979.