Vinery residents Star Turn and Casino Prince have sired two the first four Heat winners for the $1million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final to be held at Randwick on Saturday, April 6.

Trainer Matt Dunn heralded his return after an absence from the Country Championships by providing the quinella in Heat 1 at Grafton on February 17 with Tribeca Star (Star Turn) and Rainbow Connection (Choisir).

Jockey Matthew McGuren made a sure thing of it with a 10 out of 10 ride slotting Tribeca Star into a midfield spot before gaining a split early in the straight to drive the gelding clear.  McGuren has a tough choice between Tribeca Star and Auzstar (Zoustar) for the Final on Day 1 of The Championships after the latter won Heat 3 at Tuncurry last Saturday.

Tribeca Star (4g Star Turn – Classy Manhattan by Manhattan Rain) was bred and sold by Vinery for $90,000 at the 2021 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.  His dam is a half-sister to Property (Starcraft) who was a Group 3 winner of the 2017 Kindergarten Stakes at Randwick and Blue Diamond Prelude at Caulfield.

Local trainer David Smith was bullish his Casino Prince galloper Lockdown Gamble was back in the groove for Heat 4 at Mudgee on Sunday and his stable star confirmed that confidence charging home late after firming from $7 into $4.40.

Lockdown Gamble (6g Casino Prince – Off Broadway by Street Cry) made the 2022 Randwick Final when midfield behind Wagga-based Another One (Super One) but lost all form and finished near the tail in the Mudgee qualifier last year.

“Last preparation everyone knew he was below par and I’m making no excuses,” Smith confirmed.  “We were scratching our heads, too.  The eleven months off did him the world of good and he’s come back physically and mentally stronger.”

Jockey Aaron Bullock said the race panned out perfectly for Lockdown Gamble but that there was no room for error.  “I was confident when he was quickly away from the tricky draw and I knew he would be strong at the finish.  I could tell where the leader was and knew if I was going to get there it would be the last 20 metres.”

Tribeca Star is a $6 TAB favourite for the Country Championships Final while Lockdown Gamble is at each-way odds of $26.