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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: June 13, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup is looking to the future with his talented sprinter Phearson.

Disappointed though he understandably was with the gelding’s unlucky narrow defeat at Royal Randwick last Saturday after being forced to race wide throughout from an awkward draw, he isn’t looking to make amends in the immediate future.

“Phearson has already gone out for a break,” Widdup said today.

“He is a pretty smart horse, and I don’t know what his ceiling is.”

The lightly-raced Exosphere five-year-old has raced 11 times, and been unplaced only once, winning four and being placed on the other five occasions.

He led throughout to easily win a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m) at Randwick on May 27 before being nabbed, with 3kg more, in the last few bounds by Melbourne visitor Pascero in a similar race over 1400m there at the weekend.

Phearson’s slender defeat cost apprentices’ premiership front-runner Dylan Gibbons a remarkable five winners at the meeting.

Widdup clinched his 56th winner of the season (and career 293rd) when recent acquisition Queen Astrid ($2) was one of a quartet for Hawkesbury trainers at home last Sunday.

The Sebring filly was part of a sizeable batch of horses recommended to Widdup by fellow trainer Mark Newnham before his departure to Hong Kong.

Queen Astrid was having only her second start for her new trainer, and followed a placing at Warwick Farm in a 1400m 3YO Maiden on May 31 by breaking through in a 1500m Maiden Handicap.

“That was only her sixth start, and the way she races suggests she will get further,” Widdup said.

“I’m sure there is more improvement in her.”

Meanwhile, Widdup has accepted with Sneaky Paige in the Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic (1200m) at Saturday’s Ipswich Cup meeting, but is yet to confirm a start.

Sneaky Paige, as a $61 roughie, was a close fifth to Spacewalk in the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Randwick last Saturday, and would be back against her own sex if she makes the trip to Queensland.

However, she has drawn barrier 14 in a maximum field of 16 plus five emergencies.

Sneaky Paige, another former member of the Newnham team, would come in four places if all the emergencies do not secure starts.

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