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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: January 1, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup began the new year today the same way he started the current season – on a winning note.

Widdup prepared Hawkesbury’s first winner of the 2022-23 racing year when Icecrusher scored at Canterbury on August 3, and was back there today to land the opener at the twilight meeting.

Lightly-raced Fudai ($3.70 favorite), given a perfect ride by talented apprentice Dylan Gibbons from an inside draw, shook off three second placings at his first five starts when he broke through in the Maiden Plate (1900m).

After enjoying a cosy run on the fence, Fudai responded gamely once his rider got him into the clear on straightening and he overhauled Tycoon Charger ($7.50) and Rangitikei ($7).

Raced by Pip Cooper, Fudai is a four-year-old son of Shalaa and the Fuji Kiseki mare Fuji Fairy, who was retired from breeding in September, 2020.

The gelding’s older half-sister Yosei (by Invincible Spirit) was a thrice Group 1 winner and was also placed that number of times at the elite level.

“I’ve got a few horses for Pip, and it was great to get a breakthrough in town with Fudai for her,” Widdup said this afternoon.

“He keeps improving and the way he finished the race off suggests he will handle further.”

Widdup, who has prepared 31 winners so far this season, is delighted with his underrated filly Fire Lane’s progress as she heads toward the $2m Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday week.

Successful at two (the 900m Max Lees Classic at Newcastle on November 12 and 1100m 2YO Plate at Royal Randwick on December 24) of her three starts, the Hellbent youngster will be floated to the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

“I feel it’s important to stable her at the Coast to give her experience at the track before she runs in the Magic Millions,” Widdup said.

“She will have a gallop there on Saturday morning, and we’re hoping for a good draw for the big race in what no doubt will be a capacity field.”

Fire Lane is at $11 in the latest market behind stablemates Empire Of Japan ($5 favorite), whom she beat in her latest Randwick victory, and unbeaten Sovereign Fund ($6), who scored easily at Doomben yesterday against only three rivals.

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