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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: April 10, 2024: BRAD Widdup isn’t one to make rash statements.

And whilst he certainly isn’t saying his $151 bolter Piplup can upset the star fillies in Saturday’s $1m Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick, he is at least optimistic she can “run a race” in the Group 1 classic.

“I’m convinced she definitely shapes like a horse who will run a mile and a half,” Hawkesbury’s leading trainer said.

“Piplup is only a little filly, but she’s tough and is doing everything right.

“Getting to the big track at Randwick will really suit her, and we have aimed her at the Oaks all along.

“I know she is huge odds, but it won’t be a surprise to see her run a race.”

A $70,000 buy at the 2022 Inglis HTBA yearling sale in Sydney, Piplup has started only five times.

She turned in an excellent performance, admittedly in weaker class, to break through in a 2000m Maiden Plate on her home track on March 9.

Widdup then stepped her up to the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes over the same distance at Rosehill Gardens three weeks later, and she finished seventh to classy New Zealand filly Orchestral, whom she will meet again in the Oaks.

Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) placegetter Tutta La Vita and last spring’s dominant VRC Oaks (2500m) winner Zardozi filled the minor placings, and also will be lining up on Saturday.

Seven-times Group 1 winning rider Jason Collett partnered Piplup in the Vinery for the first time, and sticks with her in the Oaks.

Widdup has qualified three horses for the $1m Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) on Saturday’s program, and says it isn’t going to be an easy race to win.

“This year’s Final is very strong, and the favorite Tavi Time drawing wide has opened the race up even more,” he said.

“I’m happy with all my horses (Ausbred Flirt, Short Shorts and Ruby Flyer).

“The strength of the Final can be gauged from the fact that all three won their respective Qualifiers, but none of them are being quoted under double figures.

“Ausbred Flirt and Short Shorts have both drawn well and, whilst Ruby Flyer hasn’t, he will get back anyway.

“Ausbred Flirt is a very good mare, and it’s especially pleasing to see her qualify for the Final.

“The drier the track the better for her.

“Short Shorts is going well and though the 1400m is probably her limit, she can never be under-estimated.

“Ruby Flyer is looking for 1600m, but if they run along, he has the ability to be right in it at the finish.”

. HOOFNOTE: Widdup’s wife Milissa part-owns Short Shorts, who won the Hawkesbury Qualifier on March 9, and was one of four winners on the day for him.

He also scored with Piplup and Audrey’s Lane at Hawkesbury, and the now deceased Tintookie at Randwick.

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