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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: October 19, 2022: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup reached an important career milestone when The Poacher added to his already impressive record at Warwick Farm today.

The lightly-raced four-year-old’s tenacious victory in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m) was Widdup’s 250th since he made a successful debut with his first starter Junglized at Canberra’s ACTON (synthetic) track on May 26, 2017.

And he immediately called a halt to the gelding’s current campaign to give him a shot at the Provincial Championships next autumn.

Widdup almost claimed the quinella when The Poacher ($5) defeated Game Theory ($26), with the winner’s stablemate Showtime Lady ($4.20 favorite) a close third.

“The Poacher deserves a chance at the Provincial Championships, and I feel it’s the right target,” Widdup said this evening.

“He’ll go for a spell now and then we will get him ready for that series.

“The Poacher is still a bit untapped, and definitely has further improvement.

“Warwick Farm doesn’t really suit him as they go a bit steady and he was a bit keen early.

“He did a good job to win after Hugh (Bowman) had to shift out on straightening (bumping his stablemate) to get clear running and he dug in strongly over the closing stages.

“I was also pleased with Showtime Lady’s performance. She didn’t put up the white flag and is close to another win.”

RacingNSW stewards later reported The Poacher had pulled up with the thumps and was slow to recover, adding further merit to his victory.

Each of the five provincial clubs will conduct a heat of The Provincial Championships, with the $500,000 Final to be run over 1400m at Royal Randwick on the second day of The Championships in April.

The Poacher, raced by Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds, fetched $105,000 when offered at the 2019 Magic Millions National weanling sale at the Gold Coast.

He has now won four of his seven starts, and goes for a break having been successful at three of his four appearances in his latest campaign.

Having reached 250 wins with his 13th success in the first two and a half months of the new season, Widdup is looking forward to saddling his star mare Icebath at Randwick on Saturday as she attempts to defend her The Invitation crown.

Icebath won last year’s inaugural running of the $2m feature for fillies and mares and can rocket her career earnings beyond $5.5m if she scores again at the weekend.

With Tommy Berry on the suspended list, Tom Sherry reunites with Icebath on Saturday for the first time as a senior jockey.

He has ridden her four times, all as an apprentice, and never finished out of the placings.

Sherry easily won a Benchmark 78 Handicap over the Randwick “mile” on her on October 24, 2020, and a week later narrowly lost the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) to Colette at Rosehill Gardens.

Sherry subsequently was placed in Group 2 and 3 races on the mare against her own sex at Randwick the following autumn.

Widdup is delighted with Icebath’s progress since her fourth to dead-heaters Top Ranked and Ellsberg in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.

“She is fine and ready to go,” he said.

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