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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: September 7, 2022: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup had a tough phone call to make after a new addition to his team had won a Randwick barrier trial in April.

Lightly-raced gelding Phearson became cast in the tie-up stalls, continuing what his owners must have felt was a continuing run of bad luck.

Having been placed at all three starts at Canberra for his original trainer Matthew Dale, Phearson had not raced for just over 13 months when he led throughout to win the 1080m trial on Randwick’s Polytrack on April 19.

“Phearson simply stepped sideways going back into his stall after the trial, and straddled the bars which were too low,” Widdup said this morning.

“The stalls are no longer being used, but the horse suffered deep cuts and I had to ring the owners to tell them what had happened.

“It was a difficult call to make, especially after a horse has won a Randwick trial.

“As a result, we had to stop and then start again with him, and finally he is ready to go back to the races at Hawkesbury tomorrow.”

Phearson has since finished a close second in an 800m trial on his home track on August 22, and TAB market assessors have listed the five-year-old as a $2.30 favorite for the HRC Motel Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m).

Willie Pike rode Phearson in both trials, and has the mount for the gelding’s first-up assignment.

“Trouble seems to have found the horse, as he got hurt in a paddock before I got him,” Widdup said.

“Hopefully we can turn his bad luck around tomorrow.

“Though he hasn’t raced for over a year and is a drawn a bit awkwardly, he isn’t a big heavy horse and is ready to go there and run well.”

Phearson, a son of Exosphere, fetched $65,000 when offered at the 2019 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

He last raced at the Canberra Cup meeting in March last year when favorite and third to The Deepest Secret in a 1400m Maiden Handicap with 60kg topweight.

Phearson has 59.5kg tomorrow; 3.5kg more than second favorite Yankee Hussel (Jason Collett).

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees withdrew the filly, who was luckless on her home track when resuming on August 20, from a 1400m Maiden Plate against her own sex at last Saturday’s Hawkesbury meeting to focus on tomorrow’s race, which is restricted to provincial-trained horses and is one of two worth $45,000 (the other being The Lawn Shed Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1100m).

Widdup, who is approaching a career tally of 250 wins (currently 242), has five acceptors at Hawkesbury.

His others are Fun Sunday (Ladies Day 3rd November Maiden Handicap, 1300m), Brave Boy and Tycoon Hallie (Blacktown Workers Club Group Class 1 Handicap, 1600m), and Sky Ace (Lander Toyota Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1800m).

Jay Ford has been booked for both Fun Sunday and Tycoon Hallie, Jean Van Overmeire rides Brave Boy and apprentice Dylan Gibbons has the mount on Sky Ace.

“Fun Sunday is not yet a definite starter,” Widdup said. “The filly is going well and was narrowly beaten first-up at Wyong, but I will talk with her owner John Cordina as she has drawn the outside barrier.

“Brave Boy was a bit disappointing first-up at Newcastle over 1400m, and I am stepping him up to 1600m and putting blinkers back on him.

“There should be further improvement in him.

“Tycoon Hallie is honest but finds it hard to win. I would be disappointed if she didn’t run well in this small field (early favorite Artie’s Aura is lining up instead at Canterbury today).

“Sky Ace has trained on well since his easy first-up win in a 1400m Nowra Maiden last month.

“This is obviously a rise in class, but he has matured and it will be a good hit out to see where we are at with him.”

. Widdup will nominate his star mare Icebath, who has been given the opportunity to defend the title she won in last year’s inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick (this year on October 22), for next Friday’s Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m) at the Newcastle Cup meeting.

“Icebath will run in either the Tibbie or the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 24,” Widdup said.

“Both are set weights and penalties races for fillies and mares on her way to the Epsom (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.

“Icebath has pulled up really well from her second in the Tramway Stakes at Randwick last Saturday, and is going as good as ever.”

. Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Claire Lever has withdrawn topweight Grace Bay from the Midway Benchmark 64 tomorrow, and will rely on stablemate Jukebox Flyer (Alysha Collett).

The three-year-old filly, who has raced well in three States at her only three starts so far, is the $3.60 favorite to return to the winning list.

. Hawkesbury course manager Rick Johnston posted an improving “Soft 7” rating this morning for the eight-race program, which begins at 12.55pm.

The rail is 2m out from the 1100m to 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit.

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