THURSDAY: July 18, 2019: THERE was extra significance in Brad Widdup’s 40th success of the season when Rare Episode clinched a city breakthrough at Warwick Farm yesterday.
The lightly-raced three-year-old made light of his 60.5kg in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) to lift his record to five wins from 11 starts.
In the process, Rare Episode joined Junglized – who gave Widdup an instant kick start to his career when he won on Canberra’s ACTON track on May 26, 2017 as his first starter - as the most successful in his stable, with five wins apiece.
“I’m in the process of rebuilding my team with young horses, many of them unraced,” Widdup said this morning.
“At the same time, it’s important to have more established horses such as Rare Episode and Junglized winning races to keep your name out there and help to continue attracting new owners.”
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer edged closer to his first “ton” – Rare Episode was the 96th winner of his career – and he is confident there is more to come from the son of ill-fated 2013 Australian Guineas winner Ferlax, who was euthanised in January 2017 after sustaining a serious injury in a paddock accident at stud in New Zealand.
His first foals, including Rare Episode (who fetched $100,000 as Lot 411) were offered only a couple of weeks later at the NZ Premier yearling sale at Karaka.
“Rare Episode is a nice horse who weighs around 540kg and is a really good doer,” Widdup said. “He is a pleasure to train for his owners Max Whitby and Neil Werrett, who are good supporters of our stable.
“I won four races with Za Zi Ba (now at stud) for them, Neil is in a few horses including Akari (placed behind boom filly Libertini in the Listed Woodlands Stud Stakes at Scone in May), and Max has given me an unraced Snitzel colt (Bigger Than Thorn) who will trial next week.”
Although Rare Episode was unplaced at his previous start at Royal Randwick (10th to Spiritual Pursuit in a Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1000m on June 22), Widdup was confident he could run well yesterday dropping in grade, and had specific instructions for his apprentice rider Blaike McDougall.
“He went too hard at Randwick, and I stressed to Blaike before yesterday’s race not to gun him even if he was a little slow off the mark.
“Everything worked out well. Handfast scooted through and Blaike was patient on Rare Episode, sitting at his girth until straightening.
“I’m sure the improved track conditions also helped him get a better footing.”
Rare Episode ($10) took over on straightening and comfortably held out $3.30 favorite Lifetime Quest to boost his win record to almost 50 per cent.
Widdup is confident Rare Episode has the capacity to win more races in town, but is undecided on immediate plans.
“He has pulled up well, but I’m not sure whether to keep him in work or give him a break and look to next season,” he said.
. Widdup will renew an old Brisbane connection with former leading Melbourne trainer Peter Moody when Nevada Sunrise (Christian Reith) makes his debut in a 1200m Maiden Plate at Gosford today.
Moody purchased the Fighting Sun two-year-old and put together a syndicate to race him.
Widdup moved to Brisbane in 1999 to help run Bill Mitchell’s then satellite stable when Moody had left to start training there in his own right before later relocating to Melbourne, where amongst his 53 Group 1 winners was unbeaten champion Black Caviar.