Niceforo Puts Territory On Express Path To Top After Championships Win

By Ray Hickson

You’d be hard pressed to top Paul Niceforo and Territory Express for the story of the Star Championships.

The trainer, 63, has battled through two heart attacks and a stroke while developing the four-year-old into one of the most exciting horses in training.

Trainer Paul Niceforo (Pic: Steve Hart)

He wanted the Doncaster Mile, and missed gaining a start by a very narrow margin when runner-up in the Ajax Stakes, but was rapt to see his stable star claim the $1 million Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick.

“That’s how much confidence I had in the horse. I thought he would have been in the finish in the Doncaster so he’s a lovely horse,’’ Niceforo said.

“It’s a good consolation, a very good consolation, so I’m very happy. I’m happy for the owners, they’ve backed me all the way through.”

Territory Express, steered through the field with precision by Zac Lloyd, exploded along the inside to score by a length over Strait Acer with a long neck back to Shadows Of Love in third.

Niceforo said the gelding has been a work in progress for a while but this time around he’s gone to a new level and he’ll now aim the horse at races like the Group 3 Hawkesbury Cup (1600m) next month and the Group 1 Doomben Cup.

“We picked him out of the paddock when he was a baby and he’s always shown me ability when he was going around the paddock.

“He came to the stable and he is such a nice horse. He just tries.

“I’ve been so confident right from weeks ago and everything has gone well, the whole preparation has been perfect so I can’t complain.

“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never had a horse as good as this bloke.”

Lloyd is yet to notch his first Group 1 win but he said for Niceforo, to win this race will feel like a Group 1 and he was proud to be the one to deliver the trainer’s biggest win.

He said there weren’t a lot of options but to ride Territory Express for luck and fortunately he was able to get the runs at the right time.

“I’ve known this horse since he was a two-year-old and to get the job done for them, I really think highly of this horse and I am thankful to get the ride on a big day,’’ Lloyd said.

“Maryanne (Niceforo’s partner) gave me one instruction and that was to get to the outside. He is a hard horse to get to the outside. He jumps so slowly and there are horses all around him.

“I had no option but to go through them but he’s got such a good turn-of-foot, he makes runs and thankfully we got the breaks today.”