GOULBURN DOUBLE MAINTAINS WIDDUP'S MOMENTUM


SUNDAY: August 15, 2021: BRAD Widdup’s superb new season start gained further momentum with a Goulburn double yesterday.

His victories with Never Cry ($4.60) and Free State ($2.35 favorite) boosted his number of winners to six in the first fortnight of 2021-22, and took his career tally to 180 in the process.

The source of his Goulburn winners could not have arisen from more contrasting circumstances either.

“Never Cry’s breeder and owner Joe Rapisarda rang me from Queensland out of the blue to ask if I would train the horse, whereas I have known Free State’s breeder Frank Meduri for a long time,” Widdup said this morning.

“He was one of the owners of Circles Of Gold, whom I strapped, and she won the 1995 ATC Oaks and the following year was runner-up in the Caulfield Cup.”

Circles Of Gold, who died in 2016 at 25 years of age, became a champion broodmare after her racing career ended, with nine of her 12 foals winning, including Australian and international Group 1 winners Elvstroem and Haradasun.

Lightly-raced Pride Of Dubai three-year-old Never Cry (Brodie Loy) showed a good turn of foot to break through in the Maiden Plate (1400m).

Widdup took blinkers off the colt before he began this campaign, and yesterday’s race was only his fourth career outing.

Quietly ridden, Never Cry (who carried 0.5kg overweight at 57kg), settled well back in the field, then when taken wider on the track on straightening, sustained his tu”rn of foot right to the post to defeat Sindagar ($6) and Circling ($4.40 favorite).

“He made nice ground over 1200m at Kembla Grange after beginning moderately at his previous run (Sindagar finished just behind him), and I expected him to run well yesterday over an extra 200m,” Widdup said.

“He is a nice horse with upside. I would like to get him out to 1600m with perhaps one more run this time in work before giving him a break.”

Never Cry’s owner has also bred the seven-times winner You Make Me Smile, and the now retired four-times winner Jeweliana from his five-times winner Bianca Jewel.

“Joe has done a good job breeding his horses, and I’m sure this colt (Never Cry) won’t let him down either,” Widdup said.

Last season’s leading NSW apprentice Reece Jones partnered consistent four-year-old Free State, who clinched a deserved overdue breakthrough after not finishing further back than fourth in six starts (which included four placings) this campaign.

Given an ideal run trailing the pace, Headwater gelding Free State defeated Iolanthe ($3.90) and Role Play ($17) in the Class 1 Handicap (1500m).

“Frank (Meduri) bred Free State from his mare Johanski, and approached me when he offered him at the Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast in 2019.

“After he was passed in at $40,000, we did a deal and Frank stayed in the horse. We were then able to syndicate him amongst a number of other owners.

“After Free State won his first race over 1100m at Gosford last December, I didn’t think he would manage much further than that distance.

“He is very honest and a good type but doesn’t carry a lot of condition, so he doesn’t need a lot of work.”

In spite of his excellent start to the season, coming on top of 36 winners last season and a personal best prizemoney haul of $3.7m for his owners, Widdup has barely had time to reflect on his success.

“You don’t really get that chance as racing is seven days a week,” he said.

“I certainly didn’t plan to get six winners in the last fortnight, but we keep working hard and it’s a great result for all our staff and our owners.”

Widdup, Hawkesbury’s leading trainer for the past four seasons, hasn’t put the “house full” sign up either.

“We’ve got a number of empty boxes, and our door is always open to new clients,” he said.


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