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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Image: Bradley Photos

SUNDAY: September 17, 2023: LEADING Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup showcased his first-up skills with a two-track double yesterday.

And his dual result, taking his season’s tally to seven so far, could not have been at more opposite ends of the betting spectrum, though both were popular!

Widdup’s Royal Randwick $15 winner Ausbred Flirt, tipped by a number of media pundits, successfully returned from a bleeding attack earlier in the year, whilst lightly-raced filly Left Field ($2.05 favorite) was having her first start for him at Newcastle and justified her short odds.

Widdup was understandably pleased with both wins, particularly Ausbred Flirt (Tyler Schiller) who had not raced since suffering a bleeding attack at Hawkesbury’s Saturday stand-alone meeting in late April.

Once she got a gap between runners in the straight in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m), the five-year-old daughter of Maurice quickly put the issue beyond doubt as she burst clear to post the fifth win of her 12-start career.

“Ausbred Flirt incurred the mandatory three months’ ban when she bled after finishing fourth at the big Hawkesbury meeting,” Widdup said today.

“Under the rules, she had to stay away from the stable for 60 days.

“We gave her a spell, and I have taken her along steadily since putting her back into work.

“Ausbred Flirt had trialled well, and it was great to see her again show the form which saw her come from last to score on debut at Newcastle two years ago and then win two on end at Kembla Grange late last year along with a Warwick Farm victory under a big weight just before she suffered the bleeding attack at home.

“Full marks to Tyler for a beaut ride. He is a terrific young guy and excellent jockey and has now ridden two Saturday winners (the first on Travelling Kate at Rosehill Gardens on August 12) for me this season.”

Widdup said Ausbred Flirt had always shown the ability to win good races, and is aiming to secure black type with her to boost her future value as a broodmare when her racing days are over.

“That was a pretty decent field yesterday, and her performance convinced me that she isn’t far off measuring up to higher grade company.

“But it’s one step at a time with her,” he said. “I won’t be throwing her into the deep end just yet.”

Ausbred Flirt’s victory was also the first of a Saturday double for the mare’s major owners Chris and Lynne Lawlor (of International Animal Health Products and great supporters of Hawkesbury trainers), who share in the ownership of French import Carini, impressive winner of the last race at Flemington.

Left Field opened her account at her first run for Widdup by taking the Maiden Plate (1250m) against her own sex at Newcastle.

She carries the colours of owner Frank Mittiga’s 2001 Magic Millions winner and Golden Slipper runner-up Excellerator, and also 2019 The Ingham (formerly Villiers Stakes) winner Quackerjack.

Like Quackerjack, Left Field was prepared for her first two city runs (both were fourth placings) earlier this year by now Hong Kong-based Mark Newnham.

A $240,000 Magic Millions yearling product last year, Left Field has “a bit of talent” according to Widdup, but still learning to race properly.

“Alysha Collett rode the filly yesterday, and she wanted to stargaze once she hit the front in the straight,” Widdup said.

“We’ll continue to teach her to race, but I’m not sure how far I will go with her this campaign.”

. Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Edward Cummings made it two Hawkesbury successes at Randwick, and is understandably thinking big with Strait Acer ($2.60 favorite), who again produced a brilliant turn of foot to trounce his rivals in the Shoot Out Mile.

The $25,000 Inglis Ready2Race sale purchase made it three city wins on the bounce, prompting his trainer to look ahead to the $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 4.

Strait Acer most likely would run in the $1m Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick three weeks earlier as his lead-up to the rich Rosehill feature.

Both races are restricted to four-year-olds, with the Golden Eagle to be run at set weights.

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