Gary Harley – Wrap – 17.09.22


Scone galloper Hit The Target bounced back to his best form to run his rivals off their legs to win the Charlestown Square Ladies Day Cup at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday. The Cup was the feature race on the second day of the NJC’s Spring Carnival.

Heavily backed into $4.40, Hit The Target won by 1 ¾ lengths from Travelling Kate ($4.20), with Nitride ($7.00) in third place. The winner had been unplaced in three of his previous four starts however the eight-year-old races well at Newcastle, where his record stands at three wins and three placings from eight starts. Purchased for $20,000 after a barrier trial failure when owned by breeder Gerry Harvey, Hit The Target now has a prizemoney tally of $291,370. He has won eight times in a 38-start career, with ten placings. Saturday’s winning jockey Koby Jennings has won three races on the gelding.

Hit The Target has won a Bathurst Soldier’s Saddle and a Parkes Cup, and he was runner up in a South Grafton Cup. Stephen Jones trains the horse at Scone, and Sky Racing’s popular presenter Gavin Carmody is a close friend of the trainer and a part owner of the gelding. Jones was not at Newcastle on Saturday as he was at Randwick with other members of his team.

Kris Lees was the only local trainer successful at Newcastle on Saturday. Five Crowns, part owned by the trainer, and carrying the colours of his famous father Max caused a boilover when he won the final event – the Sage Painting Benchmark 64 Handicap (1250m) at the odds of $13.

Talented South African born teenager Zac Lloyd produced a gem of a ride from well back in the field. In only his second ride for Lees, the son of former champion jockey Geoff Lloyd settled Five Crowns near the tail of the field and 300m from home the horse was bailed up behind a pack of horses with nowhere to go. Lloyd persevered for a run and when the gap arrived, he drove Five Crowns through to win by a length. The winner had not raced since June 9 when unplaced at Gosford, however had had two recent, quiet barrier trials. Five Crowns has a good record with four wins and two seconds from ten starts.

The Newcastle Jockey Club were elated with the two-day Spring Carnival, with two magnificent days weather-wise and healthy crowds on both days. The Sharp Office Newcastle Gold Cup winner Durston is now favourite for the Group 1 The Metropolitan at Randwick in two weeks.