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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


THURSDAY: January 18, 2024: BRAD Widdup was hopeful New Zealand purchase Dawla might develop into a handy middle-distance performer.

But he changed tack once he realised that wasn’t going to be her forte, and instead began training her as a sprinter.

So the leading Hawkesbury trainer wasn’t surprised in the least when Dawla ($12) outsprinted her rivals to score first-up at Wyong today.

Ridden by stable apprentice Zac Wadick, the four-year-old mare won her second race when she looped the field on the home turn and sustained a determined burst in the straight to defeat Star Diesel ($4.80) and Externus ($8) in the 1200m Class 1 Handicap.

Ironically, her first victory was over 1600m at Gosford in May last year in a 2 and 3YO Maiden Handicap at her fourth career start.

“After she won that race, she didn’t measure up in a Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap over the same distance at Newcastle,” Widdup said this evening.

“When we realised she was flat out getting 1600m, there was no point trying to go any further in distance with her.”

A $70,000 New Zealand buy in 2021, the daughter of Almanzor had trialled twice in preparation for her resumption.

“I expected her to run well, and it was good to see her win the way she did,” Widdup said.

“But I won’t get too adventurous with her. She isn’t a big mare and we’ll stay around 1200m to 1400m.”

Dawla was Widdup’s 23rd winner of the season, having just returned from the Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast, where he secured seven yearlings, including a filly by 2012 Newcastle Group 3 Spring Stakes winner and dual Group 1 runner-up Proisir for $450,000.

Now back steering the ship, he is hoping to add to his career 319 wins with four runners at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

His representatives are Sneaky Paige (Benchmark 88 Handicap, 1200m), Fun Sunday (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 2400m), Tintookie (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1100m), and Cross The Rubicon (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1500m).

Kerrin McEvoy will ride Sneaky Paige and Tintookie, and Tyler Schiller has the mounts on Fun Sunday and Cross The Rubicon.

Widdup is particularly pleased with Tintookie’s progress since her first-up victory at Royal Randwick on January 6.

But he has all but ruled out tackling the Provincial-Midway Championships by trying to stretch her out to 1400m.

“The rain in Sydney this week will help Tintookie’s chances and even though she goes up 2.5kg, she is nicely drawn again,” Widdup said.

“It’s never easy to win two in a row in town, but I’m sure she will run well.

“I feel she is best around 1100m-1200m, and I’m not looking to add her to our team for the Provincial-Midway series.

“We’re focusing on Phearson, Short Shorts and Ausbred Flirt in the qualifying heats to try to qualify for the first ever $1m Final at Randwick in April.”

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