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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Updated: Oct 4, 2022

THURSDAY: September 29, 2022: BRAD Widdup and Claire Lever were both relieved to be in the winning list at home today – and for entirely different reasons!

Widdup ended a run of bad luck for Phearson’s connections by landing the Canadian Club Soda & Lime 4YO&Up Maiden Plate (1300m) with the lightly-raced five-year-old, whilst Lever was pleased to see her mare Diva Bella finally draw a good barrier, enabling her to return to the winning list in the Jacobs Creek Market Hall Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap (1500m).

Willie Pike, now settled in Sydney, rode both Hawkesbury winners.

Widdup claimed his 11th winner of the season when $1.70 hotpot Phearson put his first four minor placings aside to down his opposition, clearing out at the end to score by nearly three lengths.

But not before he played up before being brought into the enclosure.

“Both his runs for me have now been at Hawkesbury, and I might have to take him away to another next track next time,” Widdup said this evening.

“There’s no doubt he has ability, and he has never run a bad race.

“I’m pleased he was able to put a win on the board for his owners, who have had to be very patient.”

A $65,000 yearling purchase, Phearson was placed at his first three starts at Canberra before arriving at Widdup’s Hawkesbury stable.

The gelding had not raced for over a year when he won a Randwick trial in April, then became cast after returning to the tie-up stalls.

As a result, Widdup had to put the Exosphere five-year-old’s resumption on hold until three weeks ago when he ran second to Newcastle filly Yankee Hussel in a 1300m Provincial Maiden at Hawkesbury.

Phearson was Widdup’s third winner in the past five days (Sky Ace at Bathurst last Sunday and The Poacher at Rosehill Gardens yesterday) as he prepares to saddle Epsom Handicap favorite Icebath in Saturday’s $1.5m feature at Royal Randwick.

The Epsom field was reduced to 11 today with the withdrawal of Character.

Meanwhile, Lever got her season underway when Diva Bella ($9.50) took her career tally to five wins (and as many placings).

Pike admitted afterwards he was a bit concerned staying on the inside in the straight might not have been the best ground, but had no option – and it didn’t stop her anyway.

“Diva Bella has been plagued by poor barrier draws at her last two preparations, so thankfully she had the inside alley today,” Lever said this evening.

“She has been going well, and going up to a Benchmark 68 with 2.5kg less than a Benchmark 64 at Newcastle at her previous run when she had to carry 60kg certainly helped.

“Owner George Rassos bred Diva Bella from a Song Of Tara mare (Go With The Wind) he raced, and he also had a share in the stallion Reward For Effort (the 2009 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner).

“George was considering sending her to a stallion at Aquis Farm in Queensland this spring, but now that she has won again I think she will race on for the time being.”

Lever, who trained 15 winners last season after winning seven races in her inaugural season in 2020-21, said it had been a slow start to the new racing year.

“But things are picking up now,” she added.

“Highly Desired has just come back into the stable, and our smart three-year-old Jukebox Flyer is having a short let-up and will soon be back also.

“I’m looking forward to having a few more winners before Christmas.”

. Jockey Lee Magorrian pleaded guilty to a charge that he used the whip 10 times prior to the 100m (five more than permitted under the rules) on runner-up Reisinger in the Shake Your “Tails Cocktails” Run To The Post Maiden Plate (1600m).

RacingNSW stewards took into account his “poor recent record” in suspending him. His term will start on October 9 and he may ride again on October 15.

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