THURSDAY: June 21, 2023: BRAD Widdup hasn’t given up hope of at least equalling his benchmark 63 winners of the last season.
Three-year-old filly Fun Sunday (Jean Van Overmeire) took his tally to 57 for the current season – and only six shy of a career 300 - when she broke through for her first city success at Canterbury yesterday.
Irrespective of whether Hawkesbury’s leading trainer reaches his 2021-22 tally in the remaining weeks until July 31, he is still very satisfied with the stable’s performance again.
“It’s been another really good season, which has provided me with my first Group 1 winner (Icebath at last spring’s Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington),” Widdup said this morning.
“Obviously I would like to reach last year’s number, but it’s going to be a bit tricky as we’ve got a lot of babies in the stable.
“But we’ve still got five weeks to go, so we’ll see what happens.”
Widdup withdrew Sebring filly Fun Sunday, raced by Summertime Thoroughbreds’ John Cordina, from a Rosehill engagement last Saturday when she drew awkwardly at the 2000m start.
Again Fun Sunday didn’t draw well in yesterday’s Benchmark 72 Handicap (1900m), but Widdup didn’t hold back this time when four scratchings lessened the field to eight runners.
He also put ear muffs on her for the pre-race parade as a precautionary measure to ensure she kept settled.
“I was hoping Fun Sunday could settle a bit closer, but Jean went back rather than be caught wide and rode her patiently,” Widdup said.
“She has won two races this preparation, and probably should have won another.
“Most likely she will have only one more run this time in, and I feel she will be even better next season.”
Fun Sunday had run well at two previous Saturday engagements at Rosehill Gardens, and followed a close third in a 2000m Benchmark 72 Handicap on May 20, with another good run when fifth (beaten only two and a half lengths) to promising stayer Grebeni in a similar grade race over 1800m a fortnight later.
Yet surprisingly, she was sent out as a $15 chance reverting to midweek company yesterday, and sustained a strong finish from last before the turn to defeat New Republic ($10) and Angel Of Light ($8.50).
Widdup hopes to back up Fun Sunday’s victory with Authentic Jewel (Koby Jennings) in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The four-year-old I Am Invincible mare hasn’t been far away at both runs since resuming, and trialled nicely over 800m at home last Monday morning.
. Fun Sunday’s Canterbury triumph brought to 183 the number of winners trained from Hawkesbury this season.