Gary Harley – Herald – 03.04.24

With the last three spots in the $1 million Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championships final up for grabs, a crackerjack field of Class 5 gallopers will line up in Wednesday’s 1400-metre Wildcard at Newcastle. In a wide-open race, the TAB market after acceptances on Monday had Sam Kavanagh’s Kayobi resuming from a spell as the $4 favourite. The eye-catching performances of Terra Mater ($4.60), Willinga Freefall ($4.80) and Ang Pow ($15) in the 1200m Gosford qualifier on March 16 has them also as leading contenders.

Nash Rawiller is making the trip to ride Terra Mater, and he was aboard when the Jarrod Austin trained mare was unbeaten in three starts, at Randwick and Canterbury, last preparation. Rawiller was riding at Rosehill when Terra Mater was outstanding to finish fourth, 1.53 lengths from the winner at Gosford.

The four-year-old drew the extreme outside barrier of 16 and Rory Hutchings was left with no alternative but to allow Terra Mater to drift way back, three wide with cover.

She stormed home down the outside in the short straight and she will appreciate the spacious Newcastle track, gate eight and the longer trip on Wednesday.

Kris Lees has already qualified three of his team for the April 13 final at Randwick and he will saddle up another five in the Wildcard. Willinga Freefall is clearly the best of the Lees team and has drawn perfectly in two with Jason Collett in the saddle.  The gelding’s performance from barrier 15 at Gosford was superb. He was near last in the big field on the home turn and, after switching course in the straight, rattled home to finish third – 1.32 lengths from winner Shadows Of Love. Lees prepares Tavi Time, the $3 TAB favourite for the final, and the Novocastrian has won the series final in five of the nine editions.

Kayobi is an interesting runner and has been set for the series. He won the Gosford qualifier in 2023 and finished fourth behind winner Spangler in the final.

Kayobi has had only four starts since for three placings, at Randwick and Rosehill.

He was never off the bit in two recent barrier trials and has a very good first-up record.

Ang Pow hasn’t won a race since October 2023, but he has had only four starts since. He came from last at the 800m mark when a fast-finishing fifth, 1.8 lengths from the winner, at Gosford. The concern is the wide barrier in 13.

Promising three-year-old Hellbent On You returns to a track where she has good form when she contests the final event, the Davali TBS Easter Yearlings Class 1 Handicap (1500m). Narrowly beaten here on February 3 when coming from a clear last, Hellbent On You went to Wyong on March 4 and bolted in by more than five lengths.

This is her first start over 1500m, but the filly will relish the step up in distance. Chad Schofield has the mount for John Thompson.