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  • John Curtis


TUESDAY: August 10, 2021: TEN winners in ten days! It’s surely the best ever start to a season for Hawkesbury trainers.

Brad Widdup, Terry Croft and Edward Cummings all shared in the spoils when Hawkesbury Race Club staged its first meeting of the 2021-22 racing year today.

Widdup claimed his fourth winner in a week, whilst Croft and Cummings each got on the board to lift the number of Hawkesbury winners since Claire Lever opened the season at the Forbes Cup Showcase meeting on August 1 to 10.

“It’s great to get the season off to such a good start,” Widdup said this evening after his promising stayer Mr Bond ($3 favorite) successfully carried his 60kg topweight to outstay his rivals in the HRC Motel Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m).

“We’ve worked hard, and it’s terrific to get the results, especially for our owners and staff.”

There is nothing secretive about lightly-raced former Kiwi Mr Bond’s form, this being his third win from five Australian starts since joining Widdup’s stable – with the likelihood of more to come.

Widdup’s wife Milissa races the Darci Brahma five-year-old in partnership with the trainer’s good friend, Cambridge Jockey Club chief executive Mark Fraser-Campin.

Patiently ridden by Jay Ford, Mr Bond was strong to the line to defeat De Valera ($4.20), to whom he conceded 4kg, and Riverstock ($9.50).

Mr Bond has now his last two starts at 2100m, and his trainer is confident he can extend that to at least 2400m at his next assignment.

“He relaxes well, so I can’t see why he won’t manage further,” Widdup said.

“He is certainly going the right way.”

Widdup is eyeing either a Benchmark 78 Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday week – where his talented mares Icebath, Adelong and Vulpine all will begin new campaigns in Group 3 races – or a Benchmark 72 Handicap at Warwick Farm on September 1.

Widdup had three runners at today’s meeting, and also notched minor placings with Enjolras ($13) and Supertanker ($13).

Snitzel three-year-old Enjolras was doing his best work at the end of 1600m, and looks as though he will relish even longer, especially as his well-performed dam Scarlett Lady (by Savabeel) was a dual Group 1 winner, including the 2011 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm.

Consistent mare Supertanker made the running and had her chance, posting her seventh placing with her solitary win to date also being on her home track in September last year.

Terry Croft was relieved to bring up an overdue victory, Just A Brother’s win in the Blakes Marine Class 1 Handicap (1600m) being his first since the same horse scored at Scone on February 16.

Just A Brother ($4) finished strongly to defeat Just Tozza ($6.50) and Widdup’s Enjolras.

“Our horses have been racing well, but we just haven’t been able to get them over the line until today,” Croft said.

“Just A Brother ran well in town at his previous start, and I think he might get a bit further.

“But for the time being, we will stick to the provincials and find another suitable race for him.”

Passed in at $25,000 at the 2019 Inglis Ready2Race sale in Sydney, the now Albrecht

four-year-old was retained by his breeders.

Croft also prepares Just A Brother’s year older full brother Just A Horse (already a three times winner), who is back at the stable after sustaining an injury at his last start at Warwick Farm in early March.

“He hurt a suspensory and had a break,” Croft said. “I’ve had him back for about a month doing some rehab on the walker.”

Just A Brother’s rider Keagan Latham was dislodged when his mount Who Loves To Dance fell near the 500m in the final event, the De Bortoli Wines Metro & Provincial Maiden Handicap (1100m).

He was concussed and suffering neck pain and was placed in a brace before being transported by ambulance to Westmead Hospital.

Edward Cummings also was relieved to get his talented mare Sunborn ($6.50) back in winning form in the Lander Toyota Class 1 Handicap (1300m) after a tumultuous 12 months with the daughter of Casino Prince.

Sunborn fractured the lateral splint bone in her near foreleg when she suffered severe interference in a race at Rosehill Gardens in July last year.

“She required two operations as the first wasn’t successful,” Cummings explained.

“I was always hopeful we would get her back, but you never know.

“We knocked back a good offer for her after she ran fifth to Prime Star in the $2m Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm in February last year.”

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, Sunborn defeated $2.15 favorite Armatree and Widdup’s Supertanker.

Cummings had a breakout 2020-21 season, preparing 13 winners and becoming Hawkesbury’s newest Group 1 trainer, clinching the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm in June with Duais.

He was also the second most successful local trainer at Hawkesbury meetings, one win behind Garry White.

Along with doing a great job to get Sunborn back and winning, Cummings had pleasing news about his star mare Duais, who is getting closer to embarking on a spring campaign.

“I’m very happy with her,” he said. “She is a fortnight away from trialling at Hawkesbury (on Monday, August 23).”

Duais with is currently $11 third favorite for the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 2, $15 co-third favorite for The Metropolitan (2400m) there the same day, and $26 seventh favorite for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 16.

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