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  • John Curtis


SUNDAY: April 25, 2021: IT’S been “seven of the best” for Hawkesbury trainers this Anzac weekend!

Brad Widdup and Matthew Vella started the ball rolling yesterday with a Kembla Grange double and Queanbeyan winner respectively, then continued the momentum today with another winner each; the former at Gosford and latter at Bathurst.

Garry White and husband and wife training partners Philippe and Tara Vigouroux made it a weekend to remember for Hawkesbury by also winning a race each at the Bathurst Soldier’s Saddle meeting.

Widdup, having narrowly missed out on a Group 1 breakthrough with Icebath in the $3m Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick a fortnight ago, put that behind him by scoring with Outlook ($2.70 favorite) and Calgary King ($7) at Kembla Grange, then Nags To Riches ($3.10 favorite), who made a successful and impressive return at Gosford.

He took four horses to Kembla Grange, and all collected prizemoney cheques; Mareeba ($2.05 favorite) and Queen Bellissimo ($2.40 favorite) each finishing third.

Nags To Riches put the icing on Widdup’s weekend cake by leading throughout at Gosford in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) against her own sex, making it two wins from only three starts.

“It was great to get back amongst the winners,” Widdup said this evening on his way home from Gosford.

“All our horses performed well. Whilst Mareeba and Queen Bellissimo were beaten, I’m sure there is further improvement in both.

“Outlook did a terrific job to fight back and win, and is a stayer of the future.

“Now that she has broken through over 1600m, I want to get more racing into her to help her mature.

“Calgary King was also good leading throughout over 1400m, and the blinkers going on this preparation no doubt helped.

“He has come back a more mature horse.”

Widdup was especially pleased with Written Tycoon filly Nags To Riches, who was too nippy for her Gosford rivals on resumption.

A debut winner on her home track last July, Nags To Riches had an enforced break after a first-up close second at Warwick Farm in November.

“She was walking sideways the next morning as though she had been punched, and an examination revealed she had fluid outside the lungs,” Widdup explained.

“Nags To Riches is raced by a good bunch of owners including Lustre Lodge Thoroughbreds and Greenhaven Park Stud, and it was very satisfying to see her resume so well.”

Widdup is hoping to have as many as four runners in stakes races at his home track stand-alone meeting on Saturday.

He intends nominating Akari for the $175,000 Group 3 Killahy Equine Hawkesbury Crown (1300m), Calgary Queen (raced in the same interests as Kembla winner Calgary King by Chinese-based Zhongli Thoroughbreds) for the $200,000 Group 3 Blacktown Workers Club Group Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m), and Adelong and Switched for the $140,000 XXXX Gold Hawkesbury Rush (1100m).

Whilst Matt Vella won’t have a representative at his club’s flagship fixture – his talented three-year-old Blaze A Trail is running in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday – he drove home from Bathurst this evening happy with his results from a busy weekend, having clinched important breakthroughs with well-bred fillies Costa Del Mar and Party Lady.

Costa Del Mar ($2.70 co-favorite) won a 1000m Maiden Plate against her own sex at Queanbeyan yesterday, and Party Lady ($1.70 favorite) shed her maiden status, scoring over 1100m at Bathurst today.

Fastnet Rock filly Costa Del Mar is the first horse Vella has trained for China Horse Club, and Redoute’s Choice filly Party Lady, raced by his employer, Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock Australia, cost a pretty penny; a cool $800,000 as a yearling at the Gold Coast in 2019.

Vella saddled and strapped Costa Del Mar at Queanbeyan, then came home afterwards and was on the road again to Bathurst today to ensure all went well with Party Lady, who was having her first start for him.

“It’s been a busy weekend, but well worth it,” he said. “It was important to get wins on the board with both well-bred fillies.

“I broke in Costa Del Mar, but because of her lack of size, China Horse Club decided to leave her with me to train at Hawkesbury.

“Sir Owen gave me Party Lady to train to try to get a win with her when she didn’t measure up in town for Peter and Paul Snowden, although she was placed at Newcastle in December.

“She is a hot, quirky filly and was dropping in grade today and was underdone but got the job done.”

Kayla Nisbet rode both Vella winners, and earned praise from the trainer. “She has had only the two rides for me, and puts her mounts in positions to win,” he said.

Garry White won a sixth Orange Gold Cup last Friday week, and again teamed with leading country jockey Mathew Cahill to score with My Girl Ruby ($8) in the Class 1/Maiden Plate (1800m) at Bathurst.

It was the Myboycharlie filly’s second victory, having been successful in a 1300m Maiden Plate at Kembla Grange last November when prepared by premier Sydney trainer Chris Waller.

Team Vigouroux completed a great weekend for Hawkesbury trainers by clinching the feature Bathurst event, the Class 4 Soldier’s Saddle (1400m).

Mikayla Weir took bad luck out of the equation by leading throughout on Zouologist ($6.50), who never looked threatened in defeating $2.70 favorite O’Mudgee and $17 chance Lolita Gold.

Zouologist, who had contested heats of the Polytrack Provincial Championships at his previous two starts, is raced by a syndicate which includes former Hawkesbury Race Club chairman Ken Quigley, the father of Tara Vigouroux.

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