Gary Harley – Wrap – 02.03.24

Richly talented local four-year-old Tavi Time booked a ticket into the $1 million Provincial Midway Championship Final at Randwick on April 13 with a dominant win in the $150,000 Newcastle qualifier (1400 metres).

Trained by Kris Lees, who has prepared five of the nine series winners, Tavi Time is clearly the stable’s No.1 seed for the 2024 edition and he firmed from the $4.50 championship favourite into $2.80 with Saturday’s victory.

The New Zealand-bred gelding’s TAB Fixed Odds price for the qualifier tumbled into $1.35 on Saturday.

Aaron Bullock, who rode Tavi Time in his previous start when he won the Mudgee Cup by 6.58 lengths on December 1, had the mount again.

The NSW jockeys’ premiership leader was trapped three wide in the initial 500 metres before landing in a perfect spot, one out and one back at the 900m mark.

Bullock gave the favourite full rein halfway down the straight and he sprinted away to win eased down by four lengths from Paul Perry’s Nosey Parker ($9), which also qualified for the rich final.

“Aaron gave him a perfect ride and the horse produced a good turn of foot when let rip,” Lees told Sky Racing.

“The final is not for five weeks so I will see how he pulls up and decide if he has another start before the final or go in fresh.

“I have another couple of nice horses heading to the Hawkesbury qualifier next week.”

Bullock had a busy day as he rode Perennial into second place in race two, a Highway Handicap, at Randwick before heading back to Newcastle to partner Tavi Time in the last.

Apprentice Zac Wadick landed a double in successive races, continuing his run of form since returning to Sydney after a stint at Taree.

Wadick will never ride an easier winner than $1.35 chance Wymark, which claimed the midway class 1 and maiden plate (1850m) by 9.42 lengths in a track record time of 1:52.42.

The three-year-old son of leading New Zealand sire Savabeel is a promising stayer trained by Michael Freedman and has won his past two starts at Newcastle.

Wymark had a lovely run in third place and Wadick let him race past the tearaway leader on the home turn and he cruised to the line untouched.

In the previous race, a 900m benchmark 68 handicap, Wadick settled $5.50 chance Akaka Falls in midfield before the six-year-old finished strong to win by 1.1 lengths. The winner is trained by the apprentice’s boss, Brad Widdup.

Former champion Sydney trainer Neville Begg, who was inducted into the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame last May, bred and owns Mr Midnight, which won on debut in the 900m maiden handicap.

Trained by Begg’s good mate, Ron Quinton, the three-year-old had been travelling well at Randwick.

Quinton’s former apprentice, Andrew Adkins, rode the gelding a treat, settling Mr Midnight behind the speed before he sprinted quickly in the straight to win impressively.

Saturday’s race meeting was the first supported by businesses from Dungog and was a huge success.

The Newcastle Jockey Club had sold 4000 tickets two days prior, and the dance party for 18-25 year olds attracted more than 3000 people.