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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


THURSDAY: August 18, 2022: IT was very nearly a perfect day – but two out of three ain’t bad!

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup went so close to clinching a treble on his home track today with his only three runners at the first Provincial Showcase meeting of the new season.

Having won earlier in the day with favorites The Poacher ($1.95) and Good Omens ($4.40), his third representative The Himalayas ($5.50 co-favorite) was nabbed on the post by the other joint favorite Concocted in the Celebrating Darrin Voss Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m).

No doubt the lightly-raced four-year-old would have won had he drawn a decent alley as he worked hard to lead with 60kg, and was still in front in the shadows of the post.

“A good day obviously to get a couple of winners, but a bit deflating when you lose the third in those circumstances,” Widdup said this evening.

“I was confident going into the meeting that all three would run well.”

Widdup has just come off his best of five full seasons of training with 63 winners, and his horses collected nearly $4.9m prizemoney.

He also won the Max Lees Medal at Newcastle, awarded to the trainer with the best strike rate over the season at Broadmeadow (14 winners from 51 starters for a strike rate of 3.64).

“I’m honoured to have won the medal named after a Newcastle legend,” Widdup said.

The Hawkesbury double boosted his career tally to 240 on the eve of his star mare Icebath beginning a new campaign in Saturday’s $750,000 Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.

The Poacher, a $105,000 2019 weanling buy and raced by Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds, made it two wins from only four starts when he defeated A Guinea ($15) and Allusionist ($3.80) in the Lander Toyota Class 1 Handicap (1100m).

The four-year-old had not raced since winning a Goulburn Maiden Plate (1200m) in early February, and Widdup got him ready for a winning resumption with two excellent recent trials.

“I just wasn’t happy with him after he won at Goulburn, and felt it was best to stop and give him a break,” he said.

“He is a big, heavy horse and has to be handled carefully.”

Good Omens, previously with Chris Waller, has now raced five times for his new trainer and hasn’t finished further back than fourth.

Given a perfect Jason Collett ride, Good Omens wore down Time Raid ($9.50) in the Richmond Club Benchmark 64 Handicap (1800m).

“She is very genuine, and is doing a good job for her owners,” Widdup said.

. Kerrin McEvoy partners Icebath on Saturday, and Widdup is looking forward to another successful campaign with the now six-year-old.

“I’m really happy with her,” he said. “Her coat hasn’t come out fully, but Saturday’s race will bring her on.

“She looks set for another good preparation.”

. Chris Waller claimed his fifth August feature at Hawkesbury – and got the quinella to boot – when heavily backed Skyman ($3.90) edged out stablemate Oscar Zulu ($8.50) in the $185,000 Pioneer Services Rowley Mile.

Sydney’s training supremo had previously won the time-honored Listed event with Snow Alert, McCreery, Mister Sea Wolf and Savacool.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Cross Talk ($1.75 favorite) made the running, but could not hold off the Waller pair.

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