SUNDAY: May 21, 2023: TRAVELLERS say it’s worth the trip to visit Akaka Falls on Hawaii Island.
And it was certainly worth Brad Widdup sending the equine Akaka Falls on a trip to Newcastle yesterday.
Given a superb ride by Koby Jennings, the well-named Headwater five-year-old impressively won the Benchmark 64 Handicap (900m) at $21; his second victory from only six starts since joining the stable of Hawkesbury’s leading trainer.
The magnificent Akaka Falls waterfall is one of Hawaii’s popular tourist attractions, and the gelding’s dam Lalani is of Hawaiian origin.
The equine Akaka Falls was an $85,000 Tasmanian yearling purchase in 2019, and was placed at six (including one at Flemington) of his first seven starts in Victoria for trainer Lloyd Kennewell.
Former trainer Adrian Britt purchased him for $40,000 at an Inglis online sale in May 2021, and the gelding raced a further nine times for wins at Coonamble and Wellington and four placings in the care of multiple Group 1 winning Hawkesbury trainer Garry Frazer’s brother Glenn in western NSW.
Akaka Falls scored first-up for Widdup in a Benchmark 65 Handicap (1000m) at Canberra on February 3, and was subsequently placed at provincial runs at Gosford and Wyong.
However, he finished down the course in a 1200m Benchmark 64 at Newcastle on April 29, and his trainer opted to change tack with him.
“Akaka Falls is a very keen worker, and can run time on the track,” Widdup said today.
“I decided to bring him back to 900m, and put blinkers on him.
“It was a bit of a throw at the stumps and thankfully it worked after Koby gave him a beaut ride.
“I’m not sure I will go much further with him this preparation, although it is hard to stop when he won so well yesterday.
“Akaka Falls ate up last night and has pulled up well, so I’ll see how he does in the next few days.”
Akaka Falls wasn’t the quickest to begin in yesterday’s race, but Jennings saved valuable ground on the inside before skilfully easing him out wider approaching the home turn.
Once into the clear in the centre of the track, the gelding sprinted quickly to put the issue beyond doubt and comfortably defeat $2.40 favorite Fire And Ice and Florida Sky ($8).
Akaka Falls was Widdup’s 52nd winner this season, and his 289th overall in a career which started six years ago when successful with his first runner Junglized on Canberra’s ACTON (synthetic) track on May 26, 2017.
Widdup has trained 34 provincial winners this season, and currently shares second spot with John O’Shea behind James Cummings (37) in the premiership.