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Kavanagh targeting The Hunter’s $1 million bounty

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Newcastle-based trainer Sam Kavanagh is putting his faith in local hoop Ash Morgan to give him his maiden victory in the $1 million The Hunter this weekend.

The up-and-coming mentor will saddle up Aramayo for the prestigious 1,300m journey at the Broadmeadow circuit on Saturday 12 November.

And, while the seven-year-old gelding faces a big challenge in the elite field, Kavanagh’s quietly confident his experienced jockey can get the job done.  

Aramayo. Photo: Racing and Sports

“Ash rode more than 100 winners last season, so he knows what he’s doing,” he said.

“He rides the true weight of 53.5kg – and has worked a lot for the stable.

“We’re looking forward to having him join us on the weekend.

“He’ll just balance Aramayo up… and finish the race hard.”

Kavanagh admitted the significance of the fourth edition of The Hunter Race Day – and huge prize purse on offer – wasn’t lost on him.

“We’ve got 30 people coming to the meeting, just to be a part of it,” he said.

“It’s our first time [here], so we’re very excited.

“We have now had a full 12 months at Newcastle, we started off at Muswellbrook, so we’ve been in the Hunter a couple of years.

“It’s the whole region’s race day and our stand-alone Saturday, along with Scone.

“So, it highlights how strong the Hunter is, in regards to its racing and breeding.

“It is going to be a terrific day.

“The $1 million tag doesn’t hurt either.

“Prizemoney everywhere in NSW is great at the moment; however, to have a race like The Hunter locally is fantastic.

“It’s also a testament to this fabulous track.

“We’ve had Group 1s run here this year… but to host something like this is brilliant.

“I’m a bit of a gypsy, being ex-South Australia and Rosehill, however Newcastle is home now.

“So, to have a couple of runners on the big day – and be a part of it – is really exciting.”

Aramayo boasts five wins, six seconds and a handful of thirds from 34 starts, earning connections more than $1.6 million.

But, Saturday’s race marks his debut for Kavanagh and team.

“Yes, it’s his first run for me,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“A group of my owners purchased him online on the Inglis digital this year.

“He ran second in the Epsom in 2021; and he’s raced twice at Newcastle before – he won the Spring Stakes at Broadmeadow in 2018.

“In March, he finished fourth in the Newmarket.

“He likes it here and he’s been training well.

“He’s had a couple of trials, so he seems to be in good shape.

“Apache Chase and the Godolphin horse Vilana, who looked exceptional out of The Golden Eagle, are the ones to watch.

“It’s a high-quality race, with some really solid Group 1 form in there.

“You just need some luck [on the day] to go your way.

“Usually, Aramayo gets back in his races.

“So, hopefully, he’ll run on late.

“If he can cause a surprise, we’ll be over the moon.”

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