FRIDAY: July 31, 2020: BRAD Widdup finished the racing year today in the same manner he started it – with a winner at Goulburn.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer kicked off the season by scoring with Jailbreak on August 12 last year, and his final runner Bigger Than Thorn’s dominant first-up victory in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m) was timely, providing Widdup with his 41st winner of the 2019-20 season, thus equalling the same number he prepared the previous year.
As he had done at the same track at the beginning of his previous preparation, Bigger Than Thorn ($4 favorite with Koby Jennings aboard) justified his trainer’s pre-race confidence by overpowering another Hawkesbury representative, Brooke Somers’ Budhwar ($10) and No Doubt A Star ($17).
Whilst the son of Snitzel, a $200,000 Gold Coast yearling purchase in 2018, shed his maiden status by scoring at Goulburn on March 12, Widdup wasn’t entirely happy with his two subsequent runs (sixth on both occasions) at Kembla Grange in April.
“I decided to take blinkers off and freshen him up,” he said this evening.
“Bigger Than Thorn has come back a stronger horse, and his two recent trials were certainly good enough to be confident about his chances today.
“The 1000m was ideal, and he showed his ability by being ridden off the pace and letting down in the straight.
“I feel Bigger Than Thorn is best at that distance, provided he can get the race run to suit.
“We’ll give him every chance to make city grade this preparation.”
With an overall career tally of 138, Widdup looked back on another good season, though realising it could have been so much better had even a number of his many seconds been winners instead.
He had 92 minor placings compared with 68 the previous year, pointing out three (Stark, Showtime Lady and Shaik) of his five runners last week all finished second.
Nonetheless, he said the overall season was a good result for his owners and staff – and his family.
“There have been some worrying times,” he said, referring to the upheaval when his major client Damion Flower was arrested in May last year and jailed, charged with commercial drug importation.
“We’ve kept our heads down and continued to work hard, and I’m looking forward to the new season with some promising young horses.”
Sprint find Adelong, who has won six of her eight starts and finished second in the other two, is back in work and not far off trialling.
“Adelong will trial either at Warwick Farm next Friday or at Randwick the following Tuesday,” Widdup said.
“I’m really happy with how she has come back from her short break. I’m looking at resuming her in the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1100m) against her own sex at Randwick on August 22.”
Widdup also has high hopes for Icebath, who has won two (and been placed in three) of her nine starts.
She was just beaten by Indy Car in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m) at Randwick on April 11 during The Championships, and again was luckless when third to Dawn Passage in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 25.
Akari, a brilliant Flemington Listed 1400m winner last November during the Melbourne Cup carnival, is also back in work, but is a couple of weeks behind Adelong and Icebath.
. Hawkesbury trainers prepared 139 winners during the season, with Widdup contributing almost 30 per cent of them.