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Big Day Arrives For Jenny Graham

Port Macquarie trainer Jenny Graham is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve.

The popular trainer admits she regularly suffers from a case of nerves when lining up one of her charges in a feature race and often let’s her emotions spill over in the aftermath if successful.

But whatever she has endured pre-race in the past will be nothing to what she is certain to be feeling at Eagle Farm on Saturday when she reaches a career milestone by sending out her first ever runner in a Group One race.

Lining up her stable star Victorem in the $700,000 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) will be a highlight for the accomplished trainer, who became a grand-mother early this week when her daughter Melinda, a successful apprentice when indentured to her mother, gave birth to her first child.

Jenny Graham has been training at Port Macquarie for more than 20 years and has become one of the most respected trainers on the NSW north coast with more than 250 wins to her credit.

Apart from Victorem her prolific winners have included [b]Leviosa, Awesome Pluck, Rebel Dancer, Alcancia, Eripsni, Art Attack, Backhouse Billy, Miss Amajardan, Kastelos, Rip This, I Wanna Be A Jeep, Portatorio [/b]and[b] Poetic Debate.[/b]

Victorem provided Graham with her most important and richest win last year when he won the $500,000 Country Championship Final (1400m) at Randwick. He then became her first black type winner when he landed the Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) in Brisbane in December.

So far during her career Graham has had just 12 starters in Listed and Group 3 races for the one black type win by Victorem and five placings.


Victorem’s race record stands at six wins and five placings from 13 starts, amassing $773,350 prizemoney.

It’s a great return for a country stable that rarely keeps more than 16 horses in work at one time and an even bigger windfall for his extensive syndicate of owners who bought into the I Am Invincible 4YO after Graham purchased him for $65,000 at the Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale in 2016.

The big syndicate includes Graham’s partner and stable manager of more than 20 years Shane Conroy and her mother Jan Avery.

The first G1 runner for any trainer is a big moment and Graham admits she is already feeling pre-race butterflies.

However she is adamant Victorem is not out of place in Saturday’s elite field of contenders for the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8.

“The Stradbroke has been his goal for months,” Graham said.

“The horse has never been better - I was thrilled with his first-up run at Scone and he will be right at home on a big track like Eagle Farm.

“It’s obviously a big thrill to have my first Group One starter. I will be nervy as usual – nothing changes - but I am sure he won’t let me down.

“I’m just not sure how I’ll handle it if he wins.”


[b]Graham set Victorem for the Kingsford Smith/Stradbroke double after his four-start summer campaign in Brisbane late last year when he won the Lough Neagh Stakes and was placed in the G3 George Moore Stakes (1200m), Listed Keith Noud Quality (1200m) and Buffering Plate (1350m).[/b]

After two trial wins at Port Macquarie and Taree in April Victorem resumed with an unlucky second to Godolphin’s proven G1 performer Viridine in the Listed Ortensia Stakes (1100m) at the Scone carnival on May 11,

He was stiff not to have won after he was held up when full of running and had to change course in the last 200m. Viridine had the momentum when he raced to a winning break inside the last 200m but Victorem flew when clear, cutting back the deficit to a half a length on the line.

Viridine will again be a major rival for Victorem in the Kingsford Smith Cup. The James Cummings-trained sprinter is favoured by the weight-for-age conditions as he conceded 1.5kg to Victorem at Scone but the pair of 4YOs meet on level terms at Eagle Farm.

However Victorem has four wins and four placings from his in nine starts from 1200m to 1400m while Viridine’s record in the same distance range is two wins and one placing from seven starts.

[b]Graham has again entrusted Port Macquarie jockey Benny Looker with the ride on Victorem, keeping faith with the talented rider who has been associated with the gelding since the start of his career.[/b]

Looker has ridden Victorem in 10 of his 13 starts for five wins and has also been aboard the sprinter in 10 barrier trials, experience that Graham says is vital to his chances on Saturday.

“Victorem is not the easiest horse to ride and Benny knows him better than anyone. It would have been very unfair to replace him at this stage,” said Graham.

Graham sent Victorem to Brisbane last Friday and was delighted by his work at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning.

“The big track is made for him. I’m sure with the right run he will be in the thick of it on Saturday,” she said.

[Read More]

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