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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: November 27, 2022: BRAD Widdup clinched a Kembla Grange double and added another qualifier to the Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series Final yesterday – and very nearly grabbed a Rosehill Gardens victory to put the icing on the cake!

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer’s Kembla successes highlighted a special weekend for local trainers, who put five wins on the board at three different tracks, and on top of Fabio Martino’s first ever winner at Canberra last Friday.

Widdup won with Fun Sunday ($3.60) and Ausbred Flirt ($1.70 favorite) and Claire Lever scored with Gingembre ($2.20) at yesterday’s picnic meeting at Queanbeyan, and Terry Croft and Michael Freedman followed up with wins at Newcastle today.

Croft scored with Kandos Cosmos ($2.60), and Randwick-based Freedman continued his excellent run from his second stable at Hawkesbury by scoring with Tragara ($1.45 favorite).

Along with Widdup’s Kembla Grange double, he also had seconds there with The Impact and Sonic Tycoon, both $12 chances.

The latter was narrowly beaten by Burning Need ($3.30) in the fourth heat of the Summer Provincial Series (1600m), and joins stablemate Showtime Lady in the $150,000 Final (1600m) to be run at Hawkesbury’s final meeting of the calendar year on December 15.

“It was a really good day at Kembla with two winners and two seconds, and nice to get another horse into the Summer Provincial Final,” Widdup said today.

“I was pleased with Sonic Tycoon’s performance as he showed plenty of fight and went under in a close finish.

“He likes dry ground and probably won’t start again before the Final, whereas Showtime Lady may start in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday week, and back up the following week in the Final.”

After five placings, Sebring filly Fun Sunday (Koby Jennings) broke through for John Cordina’s Summertime Thoroughbreds at her 11th start in the 1600m Maiden Handicap from Super Chilled ($10) and El Bravo ($17).

“She has been very consistent and it was good to see her finally break through for John,” Widdup said.

“Now that she has put a win on the board, she will go for a break.”

Whilst Fun Sunday just squeaked home in the opening race, that certainly wasn’t the case with Ausbred Flirt (Rory Hutchings) in the closer.

She trounced her rivals in the Class 1 Handicap (1500m) by six and a half lengths, and it wasn’t a surprise to her trainer.

“I didn’t think she would lead, but she has a lot of raw ability and it was great to see her win as she did for the Lawlor family,” Widdup said.

“Ausbred Flirt came from the rear to win on debut over 1200m at Newcastle in August last year, but that was only her fifth start since.

“She hasn’t been straight forward to train, and hopefully all that is now behind her.”

Widdup went within a whisker of adding the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens to his Kembla triumphs.

Authentic Jewel ($7.50), raced by BK Racing & Breeding and racing manager Ben Vassallo and having her first start since late May, when also second at Caulfield, was nabbed by Dehorned Unicorn ($6) in the absolute last bound.

“I’ve had so many of those close seconds that it’s unbelievable,” Widdup said.

“BK Racing and Breeding, along with John Cordina and the Lawlors, are great supporters of the stable.”

Meanwhile, Fire Lane, Widdup’s debut winner of the Max Lees Classic (900m) at the Newcastle metropolitan meeting on November 12, will trial at Canterbury on Wednesday in preparation for the $200,000 Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1100m) at Wyong on December 14.

Victory would guarantee her a start in the $2m Magic Millions Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on January 14.

“She had only the one trial going into the Newcastle race, and I have been very pleased with her progress since,” Widdup said.

. Claire Lever paid only $3000 for Gingembre as a 2020 Scone yearling, and she has more than repaid her purchase price, collecting just over $13,000 so far.

Ridden by Leandro Ribeiro, the four-year-old mare beat two rivals in the Class B Handicap (1600m) at yesterday’s picnic meeting at Queanbeyan to give Lever her second success of the season.

. Terry Croft became the 19th Hawkesbury trainer to enter the winning list this season when Kandos Cosmos ($2.60) skipped maiden class to break through in the Class 1 Handicap (1880m) for owner Mal Russell at Newcastle today.

The Stratum Star three-year-old had been placed twice in town, and appreciated getting up to the longest distance he has yet attempted.

Michael Freedman’s Hawkesbury stable claimed its seventh winner this season (second only to Widdup’s 22 winners) when Tragara trounced her rivals in the Maiden Handicap (1300m) to put a stop to four consecutive minor placings, the latest in town.

A Written Tycoon filly who fetched $380,000 at last year’s Inglis Classic yearling sale, she romped home by more than three lengths.

Such has been Freedman’s winning roll that five of his seven victories from his Hawkesbury stable have come in the last few weeks.

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