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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: April 10, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup will target his home track feature meeting with today’s Warwick Farm winner Ausbred Flirt – but is yet to decide which race.

Ausbred Flirt ($3.20) made it four wins from 10 starts when successful in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m), one of talented apprentice Zac Lloyd’s four winners (and nearly five) on the eight-race program.

An excellent first-up sixth to Zapateo (who scored again in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at Royal Randwick last Saturday) in the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 18 when she got back further than her trainer expected, the four-year-old mare was put up on the speed this time by Lloyd, and toughed it out in the straight under her 60kg.

Ausbred Flirt staved off strong-finishing $91 roughie Mon Amore, with Newley Wed ($8.50) third.

“All going well, Ausbred Flirt will run at our stand-alone meeting on Saturday week,” Widdup said this evening.

“There is a Benchmark 88 Handicap over 1500m, and I might also throw in a nomination for the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m).

“We’ll wait and see just how strong the Cup turns out to be.”

A $115,000 Inglis Australian Easter yearling in 2020, Ausbred Flirt has won from 1200m to 1600m, and hasn’t been tried beyond the latter distance.

“She has come back really well this preparation, and today’s race looked suitable dropping back in class from a Group 3 in spite of her big weight,” Widdup said.

Stablemate Short Shorts is another likely Hawkesbury stand-alone contender, with the $200,000 Group 3 Pioneer Services Hawkesbury Crown (1300m) against her own sex on the agenda.

Short Shorts made the running before finishing fifth to Spangler in last Saturday’s $500,000 Provincial-Midway Championship Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships.

“She ran well,” Widdup said. “The track conditions didn’t allow her to show the same brilliance she did when breaking the 1400m track record in the Kembla Grange Qualifier.

“If she can get good ground on Saturday week, I’m sure Short Shorts will be very competitive.”

Widdup is uncertain of immediate plans for his other Provincial-Midway Finalists Cross The Rubicon, who ran third at $101 after bombing the start, and Phearson ($19), who ran 13th.

“Nothing went right for Phearson,” he said. “We’ll let the dust settle before deciding what we do with him next.

“Cross The Rubicon ran an enormous race, but unfortunately has to trial to stewards’ satisfaction before she can race again.

“She ran second to Acquitted, who I thought would be hard to beat in the Final had he started, in the Wyong Qualifier and was surprised she was at such big odds in the Final.”

The Poacher, who ran fifth to Final runner-up Loch Eagle in the Newcastle Wildcard (1400m) on March 30, holds an entry for the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.

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