Gary Harley – Herald – 24.02.22

The 2022 Polytrack Provincial – Midway Championships series kicks off at Newcastle on Thursday when a capacity field of sixteen will face the starter in the first qualifier. The winner and runner up will progress to the $500,000 Final to be run at Randwick on April 9.

In the seven year history of the Provincial Championships series Kris Lees has trained three of the final winners; Danish Twist (2016), Serene Miss (2018) and Cristal Breeze (2021).

On Thursday Lees can draw first blood in the 2022 Series when he saddles up Rustic Steel and Tawfiq Lass. The Queensland owned Rustic Steel is the one to beat after an eye catching third placing behind the smart Maotai and Silent Impact in a Benchmark 78 at Randwick on February 5. Rustic Steel didn’t jump well and settled midfield, three wide with no cover.

The 4yo started to make ground approaching the home turn and he kept coming all the way to the line. The winner posted a slick 1.09.36 for the 1200m adding more merit to Rustic Steel’s performance.

Hugh Bowman was aboard the son of Deep Field and he has the mount on Thursday. Rustic Steel has won four from eight and he is well weighted under the set weight conditions.

In form Wyong mare Oakfield Arrow is a big player with only 54 kilograms on her back. She was an easy winner of a Rosehill Midway on January 8 and last start the 4yo was beaten a head in a Rosehill Midway on January 29. From the successful Kristen Buchanan stable, Oakfield Arrow will be ridden by Sam Clipperton.

Astero has been racing well on Metropolitan tracks and he is a winner in his only Newcastle start. Petronius at double figure odds, Secretively and Daphne Jean can perform well in a quality Class 5 event.

Bowman has four other well fancied mounts on the eight race program. They include Aquileon, Beholder, Hollywood North and Endorsement. The imported Aquileon steps up to the 2300m in the opening event, the Horsepower Class 1 & Maiden Plate. He has been placed in his two New South Wales starts at Armidale and Newcastle.

Bowman rides the Nathan Doyle trained Beholder in the Coastline Pools And Spas Metro & Provincial Maiden Handicap (1200m). Beholder has put the writing on the wall with placings at Gosford and Newcastle is his past two starts.

Hollywood North and Endorsement are both trained by Chris Waller. Hollywood North finished on the placegetters heels first up at Warwick Farm and he contests the Lees Racing Maiden Plate (1400m). Endorsement is on debut in the Prince Of Merewether Maiden Handicap (1200m). He was impressive in an easy recent barrier trial win.