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  • John Curtis

"QUEEN" BACK FOR A NEW YEAR'S DAY TILT


SUNDAY: December 19, 2021: BRAD Widdup has done an outstanding job with yesterday’s Royal Randwick winner Queen Bellissimo and is looking to add to her record when the first day of a new year rolls around.

Twelve months ago, Queen Bellissimo made a winning debut for Widdup and owner Gerry Harvey when she streamrolled her rivals at Bathurst by leading throughout in an 1100m Maiden against her own sex.

The four-year-old daughter of former smart sprinter Swiss Ace (2009 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate winner) and Royal Academy mare Princess Zanzibar (a four-times winner) has now won five (including two metropolitan victories) of her eight starts.

But her trainer is content to keep “fishing in the shallows” for the time being to try to add another city success to her blossoming tally on the Kensington track on New Year’s Day.

“Provided she does well, there is another nice race for her then,” Widdup said.

“It’s a 1300m Benchmark 78 Handicap for four-year-olds and upwards.”

Whilst the RacingNSW handicapping panel lifted Queen Bellissimo’s benchmark rating five points to 77 following her win in yesterday’s Midway (1200m Benchmark 72) Handicap, Widdup is keen to keep jockey Alysha Collett aboard.

The expatriate New Zealander not only partnered Queen Bellissimo yesterday, but has ridden five of Widdup’s last nine winners, including three in a row, and 12 for him overall.

Widdup was keen for Collett to “take a sit”on his mare yesterday from a favorable draw – and it could not have worked out better.

She settled in third place behind tearaway leader Prince Invincible, and nonetheless had to work hard to start chasing him down before the home turn.

Queen Bellissimo overhauled Prince Invincible after passing the 200m, and didn’t relent, holding off late challenges from Twice As Special ($6.50) and Holy Reign ($21).

It has opened a new door to ride her from off the pace rather than trying to lead all the way.

Queen Bellissimo’s victory continued Widdup’s great start to the 2021-22 season. It was his 23rd winner in the first four and a half months, putting him on track to better his best of 51 in 2017-18.

He also edged closer to a career milestone of 200; yesterday’s win being his 197th.

Whilst Queen Bellissimo has a fair way to go to reach the heights of her stablemate Icebath, winner of this year’s inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick, there is an interesting synergy between the two mares.

Successful Melbourne trainer Danny O’Brien trained the dams of both Queen Bellissimo (Princess Zanzibar) and Icebath (Fabulist).

. Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Mick Attard had some good news today. He will be discharged from hospital tomorrow to be home for Christmas.

“I have been given a clearance to leave hospital, but have to abide by strict orders until I go back for another operation in a few months,” he said.

Attard sustained critical injuries on the morning of the first day of the current season (August 1) when a horse (West Elk) he was lunging in preparation to race that afternoon at Kembla Grange double-barrelled him, and has been in Westmead Hospital ever since.

He has already undergone three operations, but was given “special leave” for a few hours to watch his mare Borsalina win at Hawkesbury on December 5 and again last Thursday when she finished an unlucky fourth.

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