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  • John Curtis


SATURDAY: March 20, 2021: BRAD Widdup had to wait another 13 months to celebrate a “homecoming victory” at Albury – and it was worth it yesterday.

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer made a brief return to the city where he grew up to post his first training success there.

Albury-born Widdup made no mistake about it either, with his odds-on favorite Mix trouncing his rivals in the opening event at the Albury Cup Showcase meeting.

Ridden by Blaike McDougall, Mix ($1.70) steamed home in the Showcase Maiden Plate (1175m), racing away to score by a widening five and a half lengths.

Canberra three-year-old Romero ($3.80) chased in vain to finish second, and $21 chance Meladia was third.

Widdup’s first starter at his birthplace was the now four-year-old mare Islands in a Class 2 Handicap (1175m) in February last year, and she finished a close second at $9.50.

“Islands probably should have won, so it was nice to go back home yesterday and win with Mix,” Widdup said this afternoon.

“He was only my second starter at Albury and did the job without raising a sweat.

“Mix travelled down on Thursday evening and handled the trip like a professional, and has returned safely to his Hawkesbury stable.

“He looked very well placed in a Country Maiden at set weights after a close second (to Canadian Spice in a 1200m Kembla Grange Maiden Plate) when resuming at the provincials at his previous start.”

Mix, a three-year-old by Medaglia D’Oro from the Exceed and Excel mare Avenay, is raced by his breeder Anthony Gow-Gates.

The gelding is the third foal of the lightly-raced Avenay, who won two of her nine starts, including the Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m) at Flemington in 2011 as a two-year-old.

Widdup feels the trip away to Albury will benefit Mix, and is looking to find another suitable race for him in the coming weeks.

His success with Mix was his 21st of the season – and 11 of them have come since the beginning of the new year.

The washout of today’s Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill Gardens is likely to force a rethink of plans with Widdup’s classy mare Icebath, who ran so well when fifth in last week’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at that track on a “Good 3” surface.

“I’ll discuss it with the owners, but all autumn carnival meetings are now back a week, and we might nominate her for the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) there next Saturday,” he said.

“Her goal has been the $1m Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) at Randwick (now April 17), but if this rain stays around the Doncaster Mile there a week earlier will come under consideration.”

Accomplished wet tracker Icebath was narrowly beaten by Colette on a heavy track in the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill last October.

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