Austin, Lees secure Final spots via Wildcard

Terra Mater has booked her place in the Provincial-Midway Championship Final with victory in the Wildcard at Newcastle.

TERRA MATER Picture: Martin King / Sportpix

Kris Lees will have five runners in the Provincial-Midway Championships Final after Willinga Freefall and Baltic Coast filled the placings behind the Jarrod Austin-trained Terra Mater in the Wildcard at Newcastle.

All three placegetters have secured their spot in the $1 million finale on Saturday week, along with the qualifiers from six selected heats.

The Lees duo join stablemates Tavi Time, Willinga Beast and Convincebility in the feature and while disappointed Willinga Freefall couldn't overhaul Terra Mater on Wednesday, Lees can see positives in the result.

"He ran well, he just got held up," Lees told Sky Racing.

"It's disappointing not to win but if there's any benefit, he doesn't get a penalty now for the Final."

Lees has been the dominant trainer in the Provincial-Midway Championship Final (1400m), winning the race five times including the past three in succession, most recently with Spangler.

He will have another strong hand this year and says while Tavi Time is the stable's leading light, there is still a bit to play out.

"I think the favourite Tavi Time is probably our number one seed at the moment, but we'll see what the barrier draw and the weather throws up," Lees said.

Winning trainer Jarrod Austin was thrilled to see Terra Mater secure her place in the Final after a chequered passage in the straight.

The winner of six of her 13 starts, Terra Mater had finished fourth in the qualifying heat at Gosford but stripped much fitter second-up on Wednesday and jockey Nash Rawiller indicated she had further improvement to come.

"She is still on the way up, you could probably tell the last fifty (metres) that heart got her there," Rawiller said.

"I was trying to bide my time to time my run correctly then had a few things go wrong when we wanted a bit of luck.

"I just said to the owners, 'good mares like her with a motor, they get you out of trouble'."

Earlier in the day, Tommy Berry scored a poignant win on the Lees-trained First Person, a decade to the day since the death of his brother and fellow jockey Nathan.

Nathan died at the age of 23 after contracting a rare illness while riding in Singapore in 2014 and Berry openly cherishes the memory of his twin.