• hrv vicbred 23
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    Regional Championships set in ‘stone’ for ‘Clay’ Regional Championships set in ‘stone’ for ‘Clay’

    MAKING HIS MARK: Clayton Harmey.

    NULKABA trainer Clayton Harmey is a dominant force in the Hunter Valley training ranks, preparing countless winners during the past three seasons, including a... Regional Championships set in ‘stone’ for ‘Clay’

    NULKABA trainer Clayton Harmey is a dominant force in the Hunter Valley training ranks, preparing countless winners during the past three seasons, including a career-best 158 in 2019-20.

    Last Friday night at Newcastle, Harmey was to the fore again, training the winners of two heats of the Hunter Region TAB Regional Championships with My Ultimate Skeeta and Saint Crusader.

    Harmey won the initial Hunter Championship in 2020 with Kanye Crusader and was over the moon with his results on Friday night, suggesting the series was one he looks forward to each year, ensuring that he has suitably-graded pacers ready for the $100,000 feature.

    “It was a great result for our stable,” said Harmey.

    “Since its inception I have kept my eye out for as many horses as possible that could contest the series.

    “Of course, timing is everything and things do not always go to plan.

    “But this year we went into the series with a strong hand, and I am happy heading into the final on May 19.”

    Saint Crusader was the fastest of the three qualifying heat winners and was given a peach of a drive by the in-form Grace Panella as she weaved her way through the field from near last, with the gelding racing clear for an impressive win.

    “Grace drove a heady race, summing up the situation perfectly,” said Harmey.

    “I was so pleased with her drive and the horse’s effort.

    “I can’t deny that Saint Crusader will need a good draw in the final.

    “He is the type that needs things to go his way, but I am confident he has the ability to win it.”

    Stablemate My Ultimate Skeeta’s win was in complete contrast as he had to work overtime in the first lap to find the lead and then fend off the challengers in the run home to score by two metres, with Cam Hart in the gig.

    “Skeeta was very strong in winning his heat and I am so pleased to have him in my stable,” said Harmey.

    “He was sent to me by Scott and Jodie Whitton, specifically with this race in mind, so it is very satisfying for all of us that we have been able to qualify him for the big dance.”

    Man From Bravos won the opening heat for trainer Melanie Elder.

    • MICK DUMESNY

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