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TOUGH MARE GIVES WIDDUP A GROUP 3 TRIUMPH


SUNDAY: March 7, 2021: BRAD Widdup clinched an inaugural Group 3 breakthrough at Royal Randwick yesterday – and hopes he will leave Rosehill Gardens this Saturday with a prized Group 1 triumph.

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer, who had previously won four Listed races, had double cause to celebrate as Vulpine’s barrier to box win, with Robbie Dolan aboard, in the Group 3 Wenona Girl Quality (1200m) followed a similar performance from stablemate Calgary Queen in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) at the Newcastle Newmarket meeting a day earlier.

Vulpine’s rapid improvement this preparation reached another level when she made it three wins from her last four starts, and in the process the four-year-old daughter of renowned sire Snitzel boosted her value as a potential broodmare when she finishes her racing career.

That won’t be for a while yet, though her trainer is in a quandary as to immediate plans with her.

“Vulpine is such a tough mare,” Widdup said today. “She is such a pleasure to train as she is a good doer and is sound.

“She is maturing as a racehorse, as she is learning to jump out of the stalls better and put herself into a race.

“But I’m uncertain whether to give her another run or put her out for a break.

“As well as she is going now, I’m confident she will be even better next time in work.”

Vulpine’s tenacious Wenona Girl victory at $14 over Seasons ($18) and hotpot Emanate ($1.90) took her record to five wins and five placings from 18 starts, and Widdup saw something special in his first Group success.

“Vulpine is raced by BK Racing & Breeding, and they have stuck by me through thick and thin,” he said.

“They have been fantastic supporters, continuing to put young horses into my stable.

“It was such a great result to win a Group 3 race for them.”

Stablemate Calgary Queen is not as experienced as Vulpine, but she is also progressing the right way.

With Mitchell Bell aboard and having only her fourth start at Newcastle last Friday, she also led throughout at $11 to hold out I Say Hello ($5.50) and $2.60 favorite So Far Away to make it two wins on the bounce.

Widdup, always conservative, isn’t keen to throw Calgary Queen into the deep end just yet.

“I’m confident she will manage 1400m and there’s the Albury Guineas (an $80,000 Benchmark 70 Handicap for three-year-olds) on Friday week,” he said.

“That’s an option, but I won’t commit to that at present. I’ll see how she does in the stable in the next few days.”

. Widdup is delighted with the progress of his classy mare Icebath, whom Kerrin McEvoy will ride in Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill.

“All good; she’s great,” he said. “I will give her a gallop at Hawkesbury on Tuesday morning to keep her ticking over for the Coolmore.”

. Widdup’s victories with Calgary Queen and Vulpine lifted his number of winners so far this season to 19, and his career tally to 157.


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