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  • John Curtis


WEDNESDAY: August 4, 2021: LIGHTLY-RACED mare Nags To Riches’ ability cannot be questioned – nor indeed her toughness!

The Written Tycoon four-year-old had to overcome a sluggish start before unfurling a brilliant finish to win her first metropolitan race today on the Kensington track, clinching her third victory from only six starts.

But overcoming setbacks is nothing new to leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s talented sprinter.

Widdup knew something was seriously wrong the morning after Nags To Riches had been narrowly beaten in a Benchmark 68 Handicap (1000m) at Warwick Farm in November last year at only her second start.

“She looked as though she had broken ribs; she was walking sideways,” he said this evening.

“An examination revealed she had fluid outside the lungs, and we had to give her a decent break to recover.

“All things considered, she has done a terrific job as all her runs have been good.

“Nags To Riches is already stakes placed and at her only unplaced run when seventh to Gravina at Randwick in late May, she suffered a check near the 900m and had trouble obtaining clear running at a vital stage in the straight.”

As well as finishing second to Ballistic Lover at Warwick Farm last November, she also finished third to the same mare in the Listed Denise’s Joy Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens a fortnight before that Randwick race.

Widdup, along with Nags To Riches’ owners and punters who sent her out a $2.50 favorite in today’s Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m), had their hearts in their mouths when she didn’t begin well and settled last.

As it turned out, they need not have worried. Her champion rider James McDonald didn’t panic, allowed her to get into her rhythm and then brought the mare with a sizzling burst down the extreme outside of the track to edge out Escape Artist ($9) and well-backed Coffs Harbour visitor Parksville ($3.10).

RacingNSW stewards reported Nags To Riches began awkwardly, then lost ground shortly after when tightened for room between Zelify and Piping Roller, who shifted in.

“I wish she would jump away better,” Widdup said. “Hopefully, it’s only a maturity thing because she clearly has ability.

“She is good in the run and tries her guts out.

“I wanted to get a first-up win out of the way today before worrying about anything else. Now hopefully we can win a Midway with her in the coming weeks.”

Widdup, Hawkesbury’s leading trainer for the past four seasons, notched the 175th victory of his career with Nags To Riches, and has both Mr Bond (Jay Ford) and Switched (Hugh Bowman) in separate races at Randwick on Saturday.

Mr Bond is currently second emergency for the Benchmark 72 Midway Handicap (1800m), and Switched runs in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m).

If Mr Bond, who has won two of his four Australian starts since arriving from New Zealand, doesn’t secure a start, he will contest a Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m) when Hawkesbury stages its first meeting of the new season on Tuesday.

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