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Retired coal miner still has winter ambitions

Mon 27 May 2024

By Glenn Davis

Hobby trainer Brent Gray missed with his throw at the stumps with Mississippi Prince in Sydney last year but that hasn’t stopped the retired coal miner dreaming big again.

Mississippi Prince was given a shot at the $1 million Five Diamonds Prelude at Randwick last October after striking his best form.

However, the five-year-old, who has won seven of his 19 starts, could only manage ninth, beaten three lengths, by the John Sargent-trained Palmetto who has since raced at Group 1 level.

Mississippi Prince returned to Queensland for two more runs following his trip away before being spelled after the Mooloolaba Cup at the Sunshine Coast in November and Listed Tails Stakes at Doomben in December.

“His run in the Five Mile Prelude was okay considering he had a tough run off a wide barrier,” Gray said.

“When he came back home his run in the Mooloolaba Cup was okay, but I think the trip away flattened him a little for his Doomben run.”

A son of Foxwedge, Mississippi Prince has trialed twice ahead of his comeback in the Open Handicap over 1200 metres at Doomben on Wednesday.

“He’s had two trials and has overcome a blood disorder he had a couple of weeks ago,” Gray said.

“He should race well as he goes well fresh, but I want to see how he goes first-up before deciding what to do with him.

“There’s some good races like the Spear Chief coming up and later on there’s the Eye Liner and Glasshouse Handicap but it all depends how he goes on Wednesday.”

Gray bought Mississippi Prince for a paltry $7,500 at an online auction during the Covid outbreak and the five-year-old has proved to be a great money spinner returning more than $347,000 in prize money.

Gray rents boxes at trainer Bruce Brown’s Doomben stables and only has two horses in work.

He originally hailed from Reefton on New Zealand’s South Island where his late father owned a lot of horses and was a past President of the Reefton Jockey Club.

Gray spent more than 30 years working in underground coal mines while dabbling with horses.

His biggest win as a trainer was with Watchyerback who won the Group 3 Standish Handicap at Caulfield in 2007.