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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis

FILLY RESUMES IN WINNING STYLE


FRIDAY, March 22, 2024: THERE was nothing “left field” about a promising filly’s return to racing at Newcastle yesterday.

Having her first start since early November, Left Field ($3.10) showed a dazzling turn of foot once into the clear to storm home in the Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1200m) – and her trainer Brad Widdup wasn’t at all surprised.

“She is a nice filly and has been working really well,” Widdup said this morning.

“It was good to see her win as she did yesterday.”

After being slow to begin and then held up for clear running in the early part of the straight until the 300m, Left Field swamped her rivals to lead home a Hawkesbury quinella, defeating Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard’s Zahdi ($8).

A $240,000 Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling purchase in 2022, the now three-year-old daughter of Deep Field was transferred to Widdup when her former trainer Mark Newnham relocated to Hong Kong last year.

Widdup was impressed enough with Left Field’s return to contemplate testing her in stakes grade during The Championships.

“It might be a bit quick but I will probably nominate her for the Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 6,” Widdup said.

The three-year-old fillies’ feature is run at set weights plus penalties, and is worth $250,000.

Left Field’s victory wasn’t the only good news for the stable at the Newcastle meeting.

Widdup’s apprentice Zac Wadick rode a double, scoring on Left Field and earlier Randwick trainer Michael Freedman’s Irish import Rattle and Hum ($2.70 favorite) to take his career tally beyond a century.

Meanwhile, Widdup has delayed a decision on a start for favorite Ausbred Flirt in tomorrow’s Provincial-Midway Championships Qualifier at Kembla Grange because of this morning’s “Heavy 9” rating.

“I prefer not to run Ausbred Flirt on anything worse than a ‘Soft 6’,” he said.

“If we don’t run at Kembla Grange, there is still the Wyong Qualifier (1350m) next Saturday.”

Ausbred Flirt is unbeaten in two starts at Kembla Grange in Class 1 and Benchmark 68 Handicap company over 1500m and 1600m in November and December, 2022.

Both those wins were on good ground – and by a combined total of more than 11 lengths.

She has never raced on a heavy track, and her five starts on soft ground have produced a solitary win; against her own sex in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm last April.

Widdup won the corresponding Kembla Grange Qualifier (1400m) 12 months ago with Short Shorts (who has again qualified for this year’s $1m Final at Royal Randwick on April 13), and will still have a runner at Kembla Grange if Ausbred Flirt comes out.

He is now training talented five-year-old Ruby Flyer, who has had a change of ownership.

The lightly-raced gelding’s previous trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard did a terrific job with him, winning four of 10 starts.

Ruby Flyer’s first two victories in a Provincial Maiden Plate (1350m) at Wyong and Midway Class 1 Handicap (1600m) at Hawkesbury in April and May last year were by dominant margins, albeit in weaker class than he will face tomorrow.

But he showed he is clearly up to better company by finishing third to Bold Mac and Protagonist in the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury last August before a break.

Ruby Flyer has been with his new trainer for only a few weeks, and finished sixth to last Saturday’s Rosehill Gardens winner Red Card in a 1000m barrier trial at home on March 11 in preparation for his resumption.

Short Shorts (Alysha Collett) will have her lead-up to the PMC Final in tomorrow’s Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, and her stablemate, last start Randwick winner Tintookie, also lines up despite drawing the outside barrier in a big field.

 

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