THURSDAY: March 24, 2022: BRAD Widdup made it up 37 winners for the season with another success at home today – and has a half century in his sights.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer landed the Bendigo Bank Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m) with $3.60 favorite Never Cry, relying on him after withdrawing stablemate The Poacher.
Having his third start this preparation, the three-year-old clinched his second victory; having won a Goulburn Maiden (1400m) last August.
Star Western Australian jockey William Pike was having only his second ride for Widdup, and the trainer was delighted to have him aboard.
“Willie is a well-ventured jockey, having ridden with success in his home State as well as Melbourne, Adelaide and Hong Kong, and gave Never Cry a great ride,” Widdup said this evening.
“He is a good addition to the Sydney ranks, and I certainly won’t mind putting him on whenever opportunities arise.”
Pike’s first association with Widdup was when he rode Beachbreak in the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at the recent Canberra Cup carnival.
Widdup was especially pleased to secure another win for Never Cry’s North Queensland owner Joe Rapisarda.
“Joe does a terrific job breeding his horses,” he said.
“He raced Never Cry’s dam Bianca Jewel, who won five races, including one at Listed level, in Brisbane.
“I wasn’t totally sure Never Cry would handle the heavy ground today, as I have had mixed feedback from his riders.
“But I was pretty hopeful as he won at Goulburn on a soft track and ran fourth to Miss Checkoni (who subsequently raced well when sixth to Never Talk in a Provincial-Midway Championships Qualifier at Newcastle last Thursday) at his last run on a heavy track at Newcastle.
“I will look for another suitable race for him, as he seems to race well with his runs spaced every two to three weeks.”
Widdup’s 37th winner of the season (one more than last season, and 211th overall) lifted his earnings to $3.3m, closing in on last season’s $3.72m.
“It would be nice to get 50 wins for the season, and I don’t feel that is unrealistic,” he said.
Widdup’s star mare Icebath has returned safely to her Hawkesbury stable following her ninth (after covering ground) to Zaaki in last Saturday’s $5m All-Star Mile at Flemington.
Kerrin McEvoy will ride Icebath in Saturday week’s Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick, where she has 51.5kg – only 1kg more than when narrowly beaten by Cascadian last year.
“She has now had three runs this time and, for some reason, seems to reach her peak at her fourth and fifth run of a campaign,” Widdup said.
“I’m happy with her, and she will have a good gallop on Tuesday morning to round out her Doncaster preparation.
“I’m sure she will be very competitive.”