AS a young lad growing up at Albury, Brad Widdup used to watch the feature races and dream of being on the big stage himself at Flemington one day.
His dream became a reality today on the biggest stage of all – Melbourne Cup day.
With his first starter on Cup day – and only his second ever at a Flemington carnival – Widdup landed the Listed Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) with talented filly Akari ($11).
And what a performance she turned in to clinch a hat-trick after recent wins at Wyong and Royal Randwick.
Starting from the outside alley in a field of 15, never able to get any cover and then bumped off stride when making a run in the straight, Akari (James McDonald) produced a remarkable sprint to nab Betcha Flying ($4.60 favorite) right on the post.
Adding even further merit to her victory was the fact that she met the runner-up 4kg worse than when beating her narrowly in the Listed Reginald Allen Quality (1400m) at Randwick last month.
“It was a big thrill for sure,” Widdup said this evening, reflecting on his successful Melbourne Cup day debut.
“Akari is a very good filly and a pleasure to train. She does everything right.
“We’ll get her home and give her a break, but I’m in no rush with her.”
A $1m Inglis yearling purchase, Snitzel filly Akari has never been out of a place. Her six starts have yielded three wins and as many placings.
Akari’s victory came only three days after Widdup clinched his first city quinella when Sandbar beat stablemate Junglized at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday.
“Our staff at Hawkesbury are very important to us and deserve a lot of credit,” Widdup said.
“And special thanks to Nerissa Copp, who took Akari to Melbourne last Sunday week and has done a great job with her.”
Widdup is remaining in Melbourne to saddle another three-year-old, Liam’s The Boss (Linda Meech), in the Listed TCL TV Stakes (1800m) at Thursday’s Oaks meeting at Flemington.
He will also have three runners at his corresponding home fixture.
Fortnite (Christian Reith) and Louder (Jason Collett) will line up in the Richmond Club Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1100m), and Lagarde (Reith) contests the Chalker Accountants Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m).
Fortnite and Louder both will wear ear muffs pre-race, and the latter will race in winkers.