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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: May 29, 2022: FRESH from a Royal Randwick double yesterday, Brad Widdup is ready to defend his Bob Charley AO Stakes “title” at the same track in a fortnight.

Poised for his most successful season in terms of both winners and prizemoney, Hawkesbury’s leading trainer won the feature Listed winter sprint last year with the pacy Adelong.

One of his winners yesterday, recent stable acquisition Surreal Step, is on track to give Widdup another victory in the Listed 1100m Bob Charley (formerly June Stakes) on Saturday week.

Widdup’s Randwick double with good-priced pair Moon Reader ($18) and Surreal Step ($11) lifted him to 49 winners for the season – only two short of equalling his benchmark 51 in his first full season of training in 2017-18.

Already, his horses have earned just over $4.4m in the first 10 months of the current season; well past last season’s $3.72m.

Widdup saddled his first runner and winner five years ago when Junglized scored on Canberra’s ACTON (synthetic) track on May 26, 2017 – and yesterday’s double lifted him to a career tally of 223.

Moon Reader (Andrew Adkins) successfully made the grade from midweek provincial company to Saturday class in town when she landed the 3YO Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m), whilst Surreal Step (Chad Schofield) was just as brave in taking the 1100m Handicap.

“The stable is performing well,” a delighted Widdup said today.

“Our horses have raced well at the last few Saturday stand-alone meetings at the provincials and at Scone, and we have been getting close to such a result as we got yesterday.”

Widdup’s described his Randwick winners as totally contrasting in terms of their behaviour.

“Moon Reader is an unassuming filly who goes about her work without any fuss, whereas Surreal Step is a quirky horse,” he said.

“I have to be careful what we do with him on the track as he is a sharp worker.

“My foreman Andre Rabbett rides him in his work, and does a terrific job.”

Surreal Step had raced well when placed at his first two recent runs since joining Widdup’s stable, and was totally out of luck when sixth to stablemate Vulpine in the Listed Ortensia Stakes (1100m) at Scone on May 14.

“Sometimes you feel you might have missed the boat when a horse is unlucky, but Surreal Step ran right up to his first two runs for us,” Widdup said.

“There is another race at Eagle Farm (the Listed Hinkler Handicap, 1200m) on Saturday week, but at this stage I prefer to keep him home for the Bob Charley.”

Widdup gambled and won with lightly-raced filly Moon Reader, who was nominated for a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) at Gosford last Thursday.

“Her breeder-owner Richard Walker was a bit surprised when I said I was going to Randwick with her as he said she was $41 in the early market,” he said.

“But she had trained well since winning at Hawkesbury earlier in the month, and they don’t run these races solely for three-year-olds in town all the time.

“It was great to see Andrew (Adkins) break back in town on her. He has had so much bad luck in his career.”

Odyssey Moon filly Moon Reader (from an unraced Street Cry mare) has raced only eight times for three wins and two placings.

Widdup also was pleased to see another of his three-year-old fillies Authentic Jewel run well at Caulfield yesterday when second in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) against her own age and sex after a Scone failure a fortnight ago when second up.

“It was good to see her bounce back under her 58.5kg, and is on her way home,” he said.

Global Ausbred finished his current campaign when ninth to Kiwi three-year-old Pinarello in yesterday’s Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm.

But it won’t be a long break.

“He is a big, gross colt and I can’t leave him out for long,” Widdup said. “Perhaps we will keep him to distances around 1600m-1800m when he returns.”

Widdup is hoping to crack the half century this season with Fastnet Rock mare Outlook (Willie Pike) in a Benchmark 80 Handicap (2200m) at Doomben tomorrow.

. His Randwick double took the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury so far this season to 140.

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