FRIDAY: March 31, 2023: BRAD Widdup takes his biggest ever representation to a home track meeting tomorrow after clearing all seven horses to run despite a bigger percentage of awkward draws.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer, approaching a half century of winners in another successful season, is looking forward to beginning the careers of four debutants.
“I have spoken to the owners of our acceptors, and they want them all to run even though we have a number of ordinary draws,” Widdup said this morning.
Whilst he focuses on his home fixture tomorrow, it will be a different story next Saturday when he will have runners for the first time in the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships, saddling Phearson, Short Shorts and Cross The Rubicon.
Widdup had hoped to also qualify The Poacher in yesterday’s Wildcard at Newcastle, but he finished fifth behind a Kris Lees’ trifecta (Loch Eagle, Spangler and Willinga Freefall).
“It was his first go at 1400m, and the pace didn’t really suit him,” he said. “I thought he ran well in the circumstances, and the winner Loch Eagle is definitely the horse we have to beat in the Final.”
Widdup’s Hawkesbury team tomorrow comprises Literacy (Grant Buckley) and Manhattan’s (Alysha Collett) in the Mike O’Donnell Memorial 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m), Impress (Buckley) in the ETU NSW/ACT Maiden Handicap (1100m), Ra Ra Grandpa (Collett) and Vancouver’s Gem (Buckley) in the Mining & Energy Union Provincial Maiden Plate (1500m), and Dawla (Collett) and River Danzka (Buckley) in the Workers Lifestyle Group Maiden Plate (1300m).
Literacy, Manhattan’s, Impress and Dawla all are having their first starts.
“Literacy is a nice filly, and is ready to go to the races, and I feel she is capable of running better than her form at the trials,” Widdup said.
“Manhattan’s trialled well when a close second in an 800m heat at Hawkesbury on March 20. She has drawn awkwardly, but I am expecting her to run well.
“Impress is a three-year-old filly by Press Statement, and is on the small side and still to strengthen up. I wish she had drawn a better barrier as she trialled okay at home on March 20.
“Ra Ra Grandpa is ready to resume at 1500m after winning a 1250m trial here last week. I took him to Melbourne for the Victoria Derby Preview last spring, but it was a waste of time as the rail was so far out (14m) and it was a front-runner’s track and that’s not him. He has had only the four starts, and ran well first-up last preparation when second at Wyong over 1600m, so this looks a suitable race to kick him off.
“Vancouver’s Gem ran fifth first-up at Kembla Grange earlier in the month. She is a lovely big filly but still a bit soft.
“Dawla is a three-year-old Almanzor filly and another who is drawn awkwardly. I won’t be surprised that if she can have some luck in the run, she will go better than her trial form, and could be a smokey.
“River Danzka missed his chance on debut when just beaten in the Inglis 2YO Challenge at Scone last May when he drew poorly. He didn’t reproduce that form in three runs last time as a three-year-old and has been gelded. I have taken both the nose roll and tongue tie off him, but he has drawn poorly again.”
Widdup has trained seven winners on his home track this season, along with Chris Waller and Nathan Doyle – and the latter pair also have representatives tomorrow.
Waller runs Personal Best (Jeff Penza) and Shihab (Lee Magorrian) against each other in the Workers Lifestyle Group Maiden Plate (1300m), whilst Doyle has Concocted (Magorrian) and Miss Scalini (apprentice Georgina McDonnell) in the AMWU National Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1400m), and Mehajir (Magorrian) in the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Aust. Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m).
However, the trio have much ground to make up to overhaul trainers’ premiership tearaway front-runner James Cummings, who has 15 Hawkesbury winners on the board so far this season.
Cummings’ representatives tomorrow are Hallowed Crown colt Galatians (Christian Reith), who debuts in the 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m), Northumbria (Andrew Adkins) in the Maiden Handicap (1100m), and Moonflower (Reith) in the Maiden Plate (1300m); the Lonhro filly having been runner-up at her last two starts at Wyong and Hawkesbury.
. The rail is 3m out from the 1100m to the 450m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder of the circuit. Racecourse manager Rick Johnston this morning posted an improving “Soft 7” rating.
. TRAINERS’ PREMIERSHIP STANDINGS
J. Cummings 15
B. Widdup 7
C. Waller 7
N. Doyle 7
G. Ryan/S. Alexiou 6
J. O’Shea 5
J. Thompson 5