A barrier mishap dashed Robert and Luke Price’s hopes of three runners in the Provincial Championship Final at Randwick but the father and son training partnership is still poised to make an impact in the $400,000 race.
The Price stable has qualified two horses for Saturday’s rich race restricted to provincial-trained horses, with Noble Joey winning the heat at Wyong in February while stablemate Budderoo Knight earned his ticket to the final with his second in the Hawkesbury heat on March 2.
The team had also hoped to qualify Leami Astray via the final heat at Newcastle last week but the mare was scratched after rearing in the barriers and becoming cast.
Luke Price said it was great to get two horses into the final, having set up a stable at Kembla Grange to go with the family property just outside of Nowra.
“It’s just going to widen our prospects,” Price said.
Noble Joey overcame a wide barrier to win at Wyong and has the outside barrier and top weight to contend with on Saturday.
“I think Noble Joey has got the best form in the whole race,” Price said.
“He’s been very consistent his whole career in genuine Saturday grade races.
“He puts himself on the speed and is tough.
“He’s going to have to be really good tomorrow though with 59 kilos and an outside barrier to beat those horses who have only got 54 like Pomelo who is a mare I’ve seen a bit of at Kembla Grange.
“She’s a mare on the way up, so it’s going to be a good contest.”
While Price said Noble Joey was tough and had the score on the board, Budderoo Knight was loaded with ability and the trainer expects he can run better than his odds of $35 suggest.
“I just think he raced with no luck until the heat the other day,” Price said.
“He’s loaded with ability and I really think he’s a genuine chance.
“He’ll just be in behind the speed and I think he’s a really good each-way chance.”
The Gwenda Markwell-trained Pomelo, who convincingly won the heat staged on the Golden Slipper program at Rosehill after being transferred from Gosford because of wet weather, is the $2.40 favourite.
“She has done everything right but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Markwell said.
“She has led every time and the 1400 metres at Royal Randwick is hard.”