Gilgandra duo shopping for early Christmas present at Warren Twilights

James Rogers will team up with Gilgandra trainer Kieren Hazelton at Warren on Friday. Image – Racing Photography.

Gilgandra duo Kieren Hazelton and James Rogers will look for an early Christmas present at Warren’s Twilight Races on Friday.

Hazelton will start seven chances on the six-race program, with Rogers set to take three rides for his boss, who has been impressed with the Englishman since he moved to Gilgandra. 

“He’s very reliable and works well, he gives good feedback, and if anything, he doesn’t get the opportunities of some other riders,” Hazelton said. 

“I can certainly see a difference in his riding since he made the move and is riding more consistently.”

On what is an excellent Western Racing Association program, Hazelton believes Mean Girls ($5.50) is close to the pair’s best chance. 

Contesting the 1200m Class One Handicap, the four-year-old will be fourth-up and commences from gate six following some good recent runs at Dubbo, Wellington, and Mudgee.

“She’d be my best chance, but she can also do a bit wrong as far as her barrier manners,” Hazelton said. 

“They aren’t the best, and it all comes down to how she begins. She probably put herself in an awkward spot at Mudgee but still ran well.

“The way James rode her at Wellington two starts back from the wide gate when she ran second was good, and off that run and her Mudgee run, she would have to be a winning chance. 

“She steps back in class, and I thought she would be hard to beat, providing she begins and doesn’t throw it away at the start.”

Hazelton’s next best chance will be The Percentage ($4.60), which leading country jockey Clayton Gallagher will ride in the 1200m Maiden Plate.

A 27-start maiden, the six-year-old gelding has had his chances, but Hazelton believes it could be the right race for a well-deserved win.

“On paper, you probably look at it and see a 25 or 30-start maiden, and you wonder how I could be tipping it,” Hazelton laughed. 

“I don’t believe the race has a great deal of depth, and I’ve got three, and I’m tipping him as my better chance.

“He draws a gate to do no work, and I feel he can settle a touch better than midfield; Clayton is riding in red-hot form, and he’ll give him every chance. 
“Plus, the last time he raced at Warren, he placed behind that Sky Forger of Clint Lundholm’s, and it doesn’t go too bad.”

It’s another good card at Warren, and Hazelton said he likes making the trip to the popular track, known fondly as the ‘Randwick of the West’.

“I think everyone enjoys racing at Warren; you don’t hear too many bad things about the place,” Hazelton said. 

“Generally, they end up with good fields, which is a good sign, and you can win from anywhere there, and there is plenty of room for horses to wind up.”

The Gilgandra stable, which will also send a big team to Coonamble on Sunday, has been in good form, winning races at Dubbo and Gunnedah in September, Gilgandra in October, and Warren and Wellington in November before Not Too Bad’s good win at Narromine earlier this month.  

Hazelton was eager to put all the praise back onto his hard-working team.

“We’ve got 18 in work, and yes, my name is next to the horses, but I’ve got a good team of helpers,” Hazelton said. 

“That’s a big thing, and talking about James in particular, it’s been really helpful having him there full-time as a trackworker rider.”

On a big day at Warren, the gates open at 1.30 pm before the first race at 2.11 pm.

There will be a bus doing pick ups and drop offs, grazing boxes are available, along with full bar services, bookmakers, and TAB faciltiies.

Click here to find out more about the meeting.

Click here for fields.