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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: January 18, 2023: IT’S never too late!

Owner Bernie Young, who will turn 85 next month and became involved in racing only five years ago, became a winning owner for the first time today at Wyong – courtesy of Hawkesbury trainer Mick Attard.

And with a horse he bought for only $5000 online last October (today’s first prize was $21,000).

Having only his third career start and second for Attard after beginning his career at Tamworth, Winning Rupert four-year-old Putt For Dough ($3.60) sank his rivals in the Provincial Maiden Handicap (1200m).

Ridden by Winona Costin, the gelding raced up on the speed and ran right up to his recent first-up Warwick Farm midweek fourth, clearing out to score easily.

Jackie Greentree’s debutante Winged Beauty, the $101 rank outsider, ran home nicely to finish second and clinch a Hawkesbury quinella.

Young promised to give Attard a horse to train before he sustained life-threatening injuries on the morning of August 1, 2021 when double-barrelled exercising one of his horses West Elk, getting him ready to race at Kembla Grange that afternoon.

He kept his word when Attard made great progress on his long road to recovery, and this afternoon told the story of how he purchased Putt For Dough.

“I have measured around 15,000 horses over the last few years, and that’s my system,” he said.

“I usually don’t look at their breeding, but I did with this horse. When I noticed him, I thought ‘what an animal’! His measures were up there with Winx, so I thought I might have half a show of winning a race with him.

“I was lucky because I nearly bought a horse online a week earlier for $13,000.”

Putt For Dough raced as Vermeulen when he finished sixth on debut at Tamworth in a 1000m Maiden on October 6 last year just before he was put up for sale on, and Young changed the gelding’s name.

“I was born with a left arm deformity, and can’t play golf. But I’m blessed with brains,” he said.

“I remember a golfer telling me years back that he would “slog (drive) for show, and putt for dough”, and liked that.

“I’ve had four trainers without winning a race until today, so well done to Mick. It’s a great result.”

Attard was confident beforehand that Putt For Dough would race well today as he had trained on strongly since his close fourth at Warwick Farm in a 1200m Maiden on January 4.

Afterwards, he was contemplating having a crack next with the gelding at a Midway Handicap in town, but later chatted with his racing manager son Chris, who trained in Central and North Queensland and is now working for Randwick trainer John O’Shea at his second Hawkesbury stable.

“I value Chris’ advice and we’ll let the dust settle, and look for a Class 1 Handicap in the coming weeks,” he said.

“Another win at the provincials would certainly help build the horse’s confidence further.

“It was terrific of Bernie to give me this horse to train, and hopefully we can have some more fun.”

. Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup is on a roll, and flies to the Gold Coast in the morning hoping to maintain the momentum.

He won his third race in two days when The Halo ($16) bolted in with the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m) at Wyong against her own sex.

Widdup had landed a Newcastle double a day earlier, and shared two of his three winners with Sydney racing’s latest recruit, experienced jockey Brett Prebble.

Prebble has hit the ground running since relocating from Melbourne, and won on debutante Shalaa’s Moment yesterday before scoring on The Halo today.

The $130,000 Melbourne Premier yearling sale purchase in 2020 for Tricolours Racing made the grade from country to provincial with authority.

She had won a Bathurst Maiden (1400m) last July, and Widdup was pleased with her first-up fourth to Obvious Step at Gosford on December 31.

“She drew the outside that day, and I thought her run was excellent,” he said.

“Her appearance was so good this morning that suggested to me that she would run well today.”

The Halo tracked La Jolie Fille to the turn today, then scooted clear in the straight to easily defeat Linguee ($17) and Pink Baroque ($4.40).

Widdup, with 34 winners up (and 271 overall) in not quite the first half of the season, is understandably delighted with his stable’s progress.

He will be even more delighted if Hellbent filly Fire Lane (Jay Ford) can win tomorrow’s $2m Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast, postponed from last Saturday.

And he is hoping the current “Heavy 9” track rating is upgraded in the morning.

“Fire Lane is in great order,” Widdup said. “She did win a Canterbury trial in late November on a soft track, but I do feel she is better on top of the ground.”

Fire Lane has won two of her three starts – and they have been on good tracks.

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