MONDAY: August 9, 2021: BRAD Widdup was disappointed he didn’t get a shot at winning his first Midway Handicap with Mr Bond at Royal Randwick last Saturday.
The lightly-raced former Kiwi, successful at two of his four Australian starts, was second emergency for the $100,000 1800m race and one scratching away from securing a start.
Fortunately, the leading Hawkesbury trainer had a back-up plan and puts that into action when his home club opens the new racing season with a seven-race program tomorrow.
Mr Bond headlines three Widdup representatives at the meeting when he contests the HRC Motel Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m).
His other runners are Enjolras (Blakes Marine Class 1 Handicap, 1600m) and Supertanker (Lander Toyota Class 1 Handicap, 1300m).
Jay Ford continues his association with Mr Bond ($4.20 favorite this morning with TAB.com.au) and also rides Enjolras ($17), and apprentice Ellen Hennessy partners Supertanker ($15).
Widdup prepared 36 winners last season and reached a personal best prizemoney haul of $3.7m, and isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet.
He has had his best start to a season with three winners (Nags To Riches on the Kensington track last Wednesday, Cobia at Kembla Grange a day later and debutante Ausbred Flirt at Newcastle last Saturday) in the first week, and is naturally keen to build on that momentum tomorrow.
Mr Bond, a five-year-old by Darci Brahma, has created a favourable impression scoring runaway victories at Nowra (1600m Maiden Plate on May 23) and Wyong (2100m Class 1/Maiden Plate on July 20), both by margins in excess of five lengths.
“I felt he would have been very competitive had he gained a start at Randwick last Saturday,” Widdup said this morning.
“But the 2100m at Hawkesbury will suit him even better, and his 60kg topweight shouldn’t be a concern as he carried 59kg in his two wins for me.
“I’m very happy with how the horse has progressed since Wyong, and I’m expecting him to be hard to beat.”
A lengthy friendship with Cambridge Jockey Club chief executive Mark Fraser-Campin – the pair got to know each other when they were both based at Warwick Farm more than two decades ago – led to Widdup getting Mr Bond to train, along with his wife Milissa buying into him.
It was Fraser-Campin who influenced Widdup to return to Sydney earlier this century when former Sydney trainer Bill Mitchell closed his Brisbane satellite stable.
He joined legendary New Zealand trainer Graeme Rogerson at Royal Randwick and was with him when Polar Success won the 2003 Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill Gardens.
Widdup is expecting a good performance from Snitzel three-year-old Enjolras, named after the fictional revolutionary character in the 1862 novel and later famed musical Les Miserables.
Enjolras won on debut at $31 in a Newcastle 2YO Maiden (1300m) on July 10 before stepping up to 1600m 15 days later when fourth to Texcel in a Class 1 Handicap at Gosford.
“We got back further than I anticipated at Gosford, and he should be able to settle closer tomorrow from a good draw,” Widdup said.
“I’m really pleased with Enjolras, and regard him as a horse on the up.
“Supertanker has been thereabouts this campaign without winning, and has the advantage of Ellen’s 3kg claim tomorrow.
“She is very fit, and there should be no excuses from a favourable draw.”
Dual acceptor Never Second has already been withdrawn from the XXXX Gold Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1100m), but is a short-priced favorite in the second race at Goulburn today and not expected to run in Supertanker’s race tomorrow.
As with Widdup, fellow Hawkesbury trainers Mitchell and Desiree Kearney are also in winning form.
Team Kearney has last start Wyong winner Carlisle Bay ($4.60 favorite) lining up in Enjolras’ race and first starter Lady Shenanigans ($23) debuting in the Blacktown Workers Club Group 4YO & Up Maiden Plate (1300m).
The Kearneys purchased Carlisle Bay online last year for $2000 after he had been with two previous trainers without racing, and his tenacious Wyong 1600m Maiden victory on July 29 lifted his earnings, including a $5625 BOBS bonus, to nearly $50,000.
Regular rider Jean Van Overmeire is serving a suspension, and Hugh Bowman takes over on the Smart Missile four-year-old.
. The rail is in the TRUE position, and course manager Rick Johnston this morning posted a “Good 4” rating. Only 1mm of rain (which fell yesterday) has been recorded in the past seven days.
. Paul Joice’s selections are:
RACE 1: MR BOND, Justitia, Riverstock.
RACE 2: GIDGEE GUY, She’s Smart, Star Cherie.
RACE 3: BULLET HERO, Fine Ruby, Diorissima.
RACE 4: NARRATED, Princess Amira, Enjolras.
RACE 5: KING OF HEARTS, L’Esperance Rock, Sabino.
RACE 6: ARMATREE, Sunborn, Socrates.
RACE 7: RUSSIAN STANDARD, Ruby Kisses, Smokeshow.
BEST: MR BOND, KING OF HEARTS, ARMATREE