Morning inspection to decide Kembla's fate


Stewards will make an early morning inspection of Kembla Grange on Saturday with the Illawarra Turf Club clinging to hope their program will proceed on Golden Slipper day.

The historic racecourse had been lashed with 51 millimetres of rain in 24 hours leading into Friday night, putting the eight-race card in grave doubt.

The track was rated a heavy 10 by stewards.

It prompted an inspection of the track on Friday afternoon where it was decided to delay a final decision until 6am on Saturday.

The Class 2 Handicap has already been scaled back from 2000 metres to 1600m due to concerns over a stretch of the track.

One man who will be desperate for the races to go ahead is astute Kiwi horseman John Sargent, who is set to take the cotton wool off promising juvenile Commissar in the opening race.

A stroke of luck may have seen the Wanted gelding lining up in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper - the world's richest two-year-old race - rather than a $22,000 Maiden Plate (1000m) at Kembla.

Commissar actually split Slipper combatants Jabali and Cornrow in a Randwick barrier trial last month.

"He was a lovely type of colt, but he's just taken a bit of time," Sargent said.

"He had his first trial and ran last and I thought he was a good horse.

"We had to geld him, and after that his mind has been on the job and he's doing very well.

"We might go up to Brisbane for the winter, but there is nothing planned. We missed the main races because he had to be gelded, so we're on a different path now and we'll just go through the grades."

Sargent has booked Chris O'Brien to ride the $150,000 Magic Millions yearling after a solid grounding in four trials.

Quizzed on how Commissar will handle the bog-like conditions if the races proceed, Sargent said: "Two-year-olds don't know anything on their first run and you have to try them once.

"His last one was obviously a good one and he's a nice type of horse who's ready to run a good race, " he said.

He also has second-starter Elusive Runner in the Maiden Handicap (1400m) and Svavarsson will resume in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1400m).


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