IT’S no joke!


Hawkesbury husband and wife training partners Mitch and Desiree Kearney have been winless since the couple’s bargain buy Lady Shenanigans was first home at Taree’s April Fool’s Day meeting on April 1.

But they haven’t lost confidence and believe their frustrating drought can be broken with the same horse at Wyong’sopening day of the Gold Cup carnival on Sunday.

The booking of Sydney’s champion apprentice Zac Lloyd for Lady Shenanigans in the Johnnie Roberts Memorial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m), named in honour of the late popular Wyong trainer, has boosted their confidence.

Placed four times since that Taree victory, the six-year-old gelding has drawn nicely (barrier two in a field of 10) and the forecast of some more rain – Wyong is currently a “Soft 6” – was music to Team Kearney’s ears.

“Lady Shenanigans is rock-hard fit; we’ve never had him any more ready,” Desiree Kearney said.

“I’m confident he can get us back into the winning list.

“Mitch rang Zac’s father Jeff, who manages his bookings, and he took the ride straight away.

“It’s been a tough time over the last few months, and we’ve had a good cleanout of our stable.

“You get attached to horses, and thus it is never easy to move them on.

“But we have culled five in the last six weeks as they weren’t performing, and we’re down to eight horses.

“Lady Shenanigans can give us a real boost by winning on Sunday.”

There is no doubt the Zoustar gelding has been a wonderful performer for the popular couple’s stable – and they own him themselves.

Ever on the lookout for an online bargain, Desiree Kearney found the then unraced and unusually-named Lady Shenanigans at an April 2021 sale, and bought him for $1750 after he had fetched $300,000 as a Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling in 2019.

The Kearneys have won five races (along with 12 placings) with Lady Shenanigans, who has earned just over $153,000prizemoney.

His wet track prowess is such that all his wins have been on wet ground; three on soft tracks and two on heavy surfaces.

Whilst he isn’t racing at Wyong, Team Kearney is keeping fingers crossed multiple city winner Heza Gentleman can make a successful comeback.

The now seven-year-old, who gave the couple a memorable city breakthrough at Warwick Farm in August 2020 and was the star of the Canterbury night session in late 2021 by winning three races on the bounce, has been sidelined since June last year after fracturing a sesamoid.

“Heza Gentleman is back at the stable, and walking and swimming,” Desiree Kearney said.

“We will gradually step up his program and then get him x-rayed again.

“Whilst we’re hopeful we can get him back to the races, we will stop straight away if he shows any sign that he isn’t going to make it.”

Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Fabio Martino also has a good opportunity for a provincial breakthrough, with the consistent Mr Papera (Alysha Collett), in the Robson Civil Projects Provincial Maiden Plate (1600m).

The Winning Rupert five-year-old has been placed at both starts since resuming, at Newcastle over 1400m and 1600m on July 29 and August 10 respectively, when also ridden by Collett.

One of provincial racing’s newest trainers, Martino clinched his first and only success to date, with Eliseo at Canberra in November last year.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has pulled the plug on a Doomben start on Saturday with Ventura Ocean, who instead will be a rival in Lady Shenanigans’ race.’

Ventura Ocean drew poorly in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1350m) in Brisbane, and stable apprentice Ben Osmond, who won on Cheerful Legend midweek on the Kensington track, claims 3kg to lessen the gelding’s 63kg impost.

Experienced Northern Rivers jockey Raymond Spokes will make a rare visit to the provincials to continue a successful association with Wyong trainer Allan Kehoe’s promising filly One Kind in the CBWN Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m).

Spokes has partnered the lightly-raced Sebring Sun three-year-old’s three wins to date; the latest in a Class 2 Handicap (1000m) at Tuncurry on August 11 when resuming.

The eight-race program begins at 12.30pm, and the rail is out 3m for the entire circuit.


RACE 1: THE AGENCY 3YO MAIDEN PLATE, 1200m: 1 DUCASSE, 2 Solar System, 3 Capzinzi, 4 Countyourblessings

RACE 2: CARE 2 THR MAX 4YO&UP MAIDEN HCP, 1100m: 1 GLOBAL EMPIRE, 2 Wonder Missile, 3 Separatist, 4 Hong Kong Harmony

RACE 3: IRIS FOUNDATION BENCHMARK 68 HCP, 2100m: 1 BULLBARROW, 2 Vincenzo, 3 Mr Bond, 4 Piraeus

RACE 4: ROBSON CIVIL PROJECTS PROVINCIAL MAIDEN PLATE, 1600m: 1 MR PAPERA, 2 Satirical Fan, 3 Stanczyk, 4 Sacred Girl

RACE 5: ODA ADVISORY CLASS 1 HANDICAP, 1600m:1 GOLDEN PASSPORT, 2 Rise To It, 3 Kingston Charm, 4 Skylon

RACE 6: MAGIC MILLIONS RACING WOMEN F&M BENCHMARK 68 HCP, 1600m: 1 SHOWSUMGRIT, 2 Blackcomb, 3 Obvious Step, 4 Oakfield Redgum

RACE 7: JOHNNIE ROBERTS MEMORIAL BENCHMARK 64 HCP, 1350m: 1 LADY SHENANIGANS, 2 Ventura Ocean, 3 Rockabilly Rebel, 4 Princess Amira

RACE 8: CBWN MIDWAY BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP, 1000m: 1 ONE KIND, 2 Major Murphy, 3 Cable Tie, 4 Queen Of The Mile