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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


THURSDAY: May 4, 2023: HAWKESBURY stables cleaned up at Newcastle today, winning three of the eight races.

And there was quite a contrast in the purchase prices of the trio.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup scored with Hayatti, a $1000 weanling cheapie, Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard with $20,000 yearling buy Stars And Bars, and Royal Randwick trainer John O’Shea’s second stable at Hawkesbury completed the treble with $200,000 yearling purchase Gorgeous Zara.

Having only his second start, Hayatti (Jean Van Overmeire), with blinkers on, landed the Maiden Plate (1200m) at $4.80, finishing best to defeat Afterboomer ($3.90) and the heavily backed $2.10 favorite Bespangled.

A three-year-old son of Wandjina, Hayatti is the first foal of the Charge Forward mare Prontissimo, who won twice from nine starts.

Widdup got an unexpected phone call from Hayatti’s owner Kemal Mehmet, asking him to train the gelding.

“Kemal did work experience with former Randwick trainer Kevin Moses when I was working there, and asked if I remembered him when he rang,” Widdup said.

“Hayatti has been a bit backward and weak, but clearly has ability.

“He went from running second in a Nowra Maiden (1100m) on debut to winning a provincial Maiden today, and I liked the way he did it.”

Widdup wasn’t at Newcastle as he watched his Group 1 winner Icebath being sold at the Inglis’ Chairman’s Sale in Sydney to Yulong Investments for $2.3m, after bidding began at $1m.

“She has been a wonderful advertisement for our stable and, on top of her prizemoney, has now earned her connections $7.5m. Horses like Icebath don’t come along every day.”

Team Attard broke through with Ruby Flyer at Wyong last Thursday, and did it again today, this time with $1.28 hotpot Stars And Bars in the Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Ridden by Jason Collett, the Starspangledbanner four-year-old was having his seventh start and was too strong for outsiders Little Bit Yours ($51) and another Hawkesbury representative, Peter Green’s Killer Kerr ($41).

Lucy Keegan-Attard purchased Stars And Bars sight unseen for $20,000 at he 2020 Magic Millions yearling sale, and admitted she wasn’t a normal housewife shopper.

“I buy horses, not shoes and handbags,” she joked. “Jason asked if I knew anything when a horse float arrived with this horse after I bought him.

“He reckons buying shoes and handbags would be much cheaper.

“I really like Starspangledbanner and Stars And Bars’ dam Reeltop was bred by Juddmonte Farms and was brought out to Australia.

“Stars And Bars had a lot of athleticism about him when I viewed him online, and I thought he would make into a nice horse in time.

“He was very leggy and physically not there, so we were patient and didn’t begin racing him until he was a late three-year-old.

“I’m sure he will win more races and give us a successful return on our outlay.”

Keegan-Attard was especially thrilled to win for what she described as a syndicate of really good people, which include her mother Sandra Keegan.

“Our next door neighbour Peter Christie bought a share for his wife Robyn, and our long-standing owner Matt McKeough also bought a share for his wife Angela,” she said.

“The entire syndicate comprises great people, and we are all going to have a lot of fun with this horse, especially now he has broken through.”

Keegan-Attard revealed her English parents unbeknown to her had a hot air balloon which was also called Stars And Bars.

“They were aviators, but I was the black sheep in that regard. I didn’t know what they called their hot air balloon when I named this horse.”

Chad Schofield secured room between a host of runners in the straight to get Gorgeous Zara ($5) home in the Maiden Plate (1850m).

The Almanzor filly, purchased at a Gold Coast National yearling sale, had not finished further back than fourth (including three placings) at her first four starts.

The stable advised stewards beforehand that Gorgeous Zara would be ridden conservatively from her wide draw, so there was plenty of merit in her performance.

She is clearly relishing her distances being increased, and the manner in which she hit the line suggests she will appreciate even further.

Gorgeous Zara defeat Whatadilemma ($3.80) and La Sagrada ($26); the treble lifting the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury so far this season to 156.

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