THURSDAY: February 2, 2023:  HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup parlayed an excellent New Zealand yearling sale into a homecoming Gosford double today.

Continuing his excellent season, which of course is highlighted by a Group 1 breakthrough with stable ambassador Icebath, Brad’s victories with Surreal Lily and Tintookie boosted his tally in just over the first six months to 37 (nine more than the corresponding period last season).

And he was popular with punters as his Gosford “girls” both were $2.45 favorites.

Surreal Lily (apprentice Amy McLucas) led throughout in the Provincial Maiden Plate (1200m), and Tintookie (Brett Prebble) did the same in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) against her own sex.

“Surreal Lily has been a real work in progress,” Brad said after returning home from Gosford this evening.

“It has taken a bit to get her there, and it was good to see her break through at her fifth start after two placings.”

Brad was very complimentary of apprentice McLucas, who had also led throughout on stablemate Showtime Lady to win at Newcastle last month.

“Horses run for her; she has a good clock in her head,” he said.

Surreal Lily (by Outreach) is a younger half-sister to five-times winner Surreal Step (by Sidestep). Their dam, the unraced Wonderful World mare Continua, died in October, 2021.

Luck didn’t fall Tintookie’s way at her previous start when a close second up fourth to Smart Little Miss in a similar race at Gosford on January 13, but she was no puppet this time.

Jockey Brett Prebble took any bad luck out of the equation this time by getting her away smartly and taking up the running.

The Winning Rupert three-year-old gave a good kick on straightening and gamely held off the determined finish of Smart Little Miss ($3.20) to post her second win from only five starts.

Brad purchased the brilliantly-named Tintookie (from Lady Marionette) for $30,000 at the 2021 Inglis Classic yearling sale, and syndicated her amongst friends and some clients.

“Even though she isn’t big, I liked her type and didn’t have a lot of money to spend at that sale (which also produced Icebath for $100,000 at the same sale three years earlier),” he said.

“Tintookie has done a good job, and has earned more than double her purchase price already.

“Even though she led and won today, I feel she will be even better when she can be ridden from behind.”

Brad returned from the NZ Bloodstock yearling sale at Karaka with four yearlings – colts by Ace High and Proisir, and fillies by that stallion and Churchill.

“My plan was to buy horses who will train on, and I’m really pleased with the four we were able to get,” he said.

“And Short Shorts’ unraced three-year-old sister is also coming over to me.”

Brad’s tally of winners this season represents 35 per cent of the 106 winners produced from Hawkesbury stables, and he is currently eighth in the NSW premiership and one of only two provincial trainers (leading Newcastle mentor Kris Lees, who has a much larger team, is running second behind Chris Waller) in the top 10.

Brad trained a benchmark 63 winners last season, and says his aim at the start of each racing year is to reach the half century mark.