SUNDAY: May 28, 2023: BRAD Widdup dreaded picking up the phone after an incident at the Royal Randwick trials 13 months ago.
A newcomer to his stable, who had not raced for more than a year, had just beaten seven rivals in a 1080m trial on the Polytrack.
The lightly-raced gelding named Phearson had joined his stable after placings at his first three starts at Canberra in early 2021.
“Phearson stepped sideways going back into his stall after the trial and straddled the bars,” Widdup recalled today.
“He suffered deep cuts, and it was a hard call to make to one of his owners Peter Christou to tell him what had happened after winning a Randwick trial, especially as he had previously been injured in a paddock accident and hadn’t raced for more than year when he came to me.
“We had to stop and start again.”
All’s well that ends well as Phearson burst into the city winning list for the first time at Randwick yesterday – and his trainer is confident there is more to come.
Ridden by apprentice Dylan Gibbons, the well-supported Phearson ($3.80) led throughout to easily take the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m).
“I thought there would be more speed in the race, and told Dylan to drop in behind if they wanted to go, otherwise lead if that didn’t happen,” Widdup said.
“He rode him brilliantly and the horse was never going to be beaten.
“I’ve had a bit of luck with Dylan. He is a brilliant rider and an impressive young chap.
“Brett Prebble rode Phearson at his previous start when runner-up on the Kensington track, and wanted to ride another horse (ironically runner-up Green Shadows), and I was pleased to be able to get Dylan, who claimed 1.5kg.”
Now five-year-old Exosphere gelding Phearson, a $65,000 yearling buy at the 2019 Inglis Classic yearling sale, is putting together a pretty nice record.
From only 10 starts, he has won four and been placed on five occasions and earned nearly $225,000 prizemoney.
His sole unplaced run was in the $500,000 Provincial-Midway Championship Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 8 after winning his home track heat on March 4.
“Nothing went right that day,” Widdup said. “That certainly wasn’t his form as he showed yesterday.
“Phearson is a pretty smart horse, and still has it all in front of him.
“I probably won’t push him too much further this campaign.”
Widdup completed an outstanding week, Phearson’s victory following wins by Akaka Falls at Newcastle last Saturday, Guzumped at Kembla Grange on Tuesday and Dawla at Gosford on Thursday, lifting his season’s tally to 55 and a career 292.
The run of success was especially pleasing given both his valued stable foreman Andre Rabbett and long-time employee Rosie Jilla have been sidelined.
“Andre fractured an ankle in an incident in the barriers on a young horse, and had to have five screws and a rod put in,” Widdup said.
“It was a terrible injury.
“Rosie had a hernia operation, and is now back at the stables helping out, but unable to ride trackwork yet.
“It has been pretty difficult without them, and everyone has done a great job to keep us ticking over and get these winners.”