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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis

JEDIBEEL MAKES AN IMRESSIVE HOME TRACK DEBUT


TUESDAY: March 14, 2023: SUCCESS breeds success!

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s victory with debutant Jedibeel at his home track today can be traced back to a Melbourne Cup carnival stakes breakthrough just over three years ago.

Widdup landed the 2019 Listed Desirable Stakes (1400m) at Flemington with Akari (James McDonald), which led to a phone call from Sydney businessman Mike Gregg.

He subsequently bought an unraced young horse for Gregg on the recommendation of New Zealand associates, and won with $15 chance The Grundler first-up as a three-year-old at Newcastle in February 2021 when the gelding was having only his third career start.

Widdup now has a number of horses for Gregg, who races them in the bumble bee colours of his University of NSW Cricket Club.

There was definitely no bumbling about today as the solidly supported $2 favorite Jedibeel made an impressive debut in the Richmond Club Maiden Handicap (1100m).

Ridden by Brett Prebble, Jedibeel began awkwardly from an outside draw but quickly mustered speed before having to race three wide outside joint leaders Separatist ($6.50) and Candlelit ($4.60).

It mattered nought. Jedibeel moved up menacingly on the home turn, quickly put paid to his opposition and had nearly three lengths to spare at the end from another Hawkesbury representative, Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard’s Zahdi ($14), who was also having her first start.

“Mike is a good supporter of the stable, and it was great to get a first-up win for him with this horse today,” Widdup said this evening.

“Jedibeel is a nice horse with ability, and we have had to be patient with him.

“He has taken his time, so it’s been a matter of waiting until he showed he was ready to go the races.”

Jedibeel is a three-year-old son of Cox Plate winner Savabeel and the O’Reilly mare Starry, and was a $190,000 purchase at the 2021 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“I initially hoped to pay no more than $150,000, but really liked him and went the extra to secure him for Mike,” Widdup said.

Jedibeel was Widdup’s 44th winner of the season (his 281st overall), and his horses have earned almost $3m since August.

He will be awaiting the release of fields tomorrow morning for Saturday’s Golden Slipper Stakes meeting at Rosehill Gardens, keen to secure a start with Ausbred Rising Sun (Prebble) in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).

The Maurice three-year-old is currently well down in ballot order (18 can run), but there will be plenty of dropouts from the original entry list.

Prebble was one of three jockeys who rode doubles at today’s meeting.

He also won on hotpot Barmera ($1.24), whilst Tom Sherry won the first and last races on Peace Officer ($2.30 favorite) and Black Duke ($4 favorite), and Brad Rawiller scored on High Plateau ($1.60 favorite) and Clear Choice ($2.30 favorite).

Punters were bang on target with favorites winning the first five and six of the eight races, but bookmakers got some relief with Premierro ($17) and Deniliquin ($11) in the sixth and seventh.

High Plateau’s easy victory in the TAB.com.au Class 1 Handicap (1000m) extended Godolphin’s James’ Cummings’ commanding lead in the Hawkesbury trainers’ premiership.

He was Cummings’ 15th winner in the 2022-23 season, eight ahead of Widdup, Newcastle’s Nathan Doyle and Chris Waller, who scored with Premierro.

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