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A "THORN" IN HIS RIVALS' SIDES AT GOULBURN

THURSDAY: March 12, 2020: BRAD Widdup’s Goulburn success today was the 120th of his career – and he hopes to build on that with a Group 3 breakthrough in his home State at Kembla Grange tomorrow.

Widdup has dual representation – Akari (James McDonald) and Icebath (Christian Reith) - in the $200,000 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) for three-year-old fillies.

Both were acceptors for other races, but Akari will run at Kembla instead of the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, whilst Icebath has been withdrawn from a supporting race (1600m Benchmark 64 Handicap) at the Classic meeting.

Widdup made it 23 wins for the current season and 120 overall when Bigger Than Thorn successfully returned as a gelding at Goulburn today.

With brother-in-law Reith aboard, Bigger Than Thorn ($3.50) was gutsy in outgaming Significant Rule ($7.50) in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m) after the pair had the race to themselves over the last 200m.

Widdup began training at Hawkesbury in the latter part of the 2016-17 season, and made a perfect start, scoring with his debut runner Junglized on Canberra’s ACTON (synthetic) track on May 26, 2017.

He was understandably pleased to get a breakthrough victory with Bigger Than Thorn, a lightly-raced Snitzel three-year-old who was having only his third start today.

“He needed to be gelded, and it has certainly made a difference to him,” Widdup said.

“I thought he did a good job first-up. Gai and Adrian’s horses (they train the runner-up) are never easy to get past, but our bloke toughed it out well.”

Widdup is looking forward to starting both Akari and Icebath in the Kembla Grange Classic.

He has won four Listed races so far, and has had a similar number of Group 3 placings along with a Group 2 placegetter.

McDonald reunites with Akari, on whom he won the Listed Desirable Stakes (1400m) at Flemington’s Melbourne Cup carnival last year, unleashing a brilliant finish.

“A good draw tomorrow gives us the opportunity to ride her a bit closer over the 1600m,” Widdup said.

“She hit a wet track first-up in the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick, and struck trouble before finishing well when seventh (to Kiwi filly Probabeel) in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) there a fortnight later.

“The 1600m at Kembla is definitely going to suit her better.

“Icebath also deserves her chance to get some black type. She wasn’t disgraced in black type races last season as a two-year-old, and is unbeaten from two runs since resuming.

“I’m sure both fillies will run well.”

. Widdup also has dual representation in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m) with other well-bred three-year-olds Darling Point (Hugh Bowman) and Lady Tavista (Tim Clark).

Darling Point and Lady Tavista were acceptors for the Kembla Grange Classic, but their trainer has chosen this race for them instead.