SUNDAY: March 22, 2020: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup wasn’t able to be at Albury today to celebrate his father Pat’s 80th birthday in person.

But he found the next best way to mark the occasion by winning a race at the Country Championships Wild Card meeting at Muswellbrook.

Widdup’s decision to put blinkers on Bullet Storm ($3.60) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1500m) brought an immediate dividend, with the lightly-raced three-year-old posting an impressive victory.

Superbly ridden by Adam Hyeronimus, Bullet Storm was strong through the line in defeating Spirit Of Elijah ($8) and Polish Train ($8.50).

“Bullet Storm has been a little disappointing this campaign, even though he hasn’t run badly,” Widdup said on his way home.

“He’s a good moving horse who can gallop, and I felt it was the right time to put the blinkers on him going to 1500m.”

A son of Sizzling, Bullet Storm was won two of his eight starts and has never finished further back than sixth.

Hyeronimus was also in the saddle when the gelding broke through in a Nowra Maiden Plate (1400m) on August 25 last year.

Hong Kong-owned Bullet Storm had finished sixth and fourth respectively at his previous two starts at Canberra when firm in the market on both occasions at $2.50 and $4.

Widdup has now trained 24 winners so far this season, and he is looking to run both his talented three-year-old fillies Akari and Icebath in the Group 3 James HB Carr Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 18 against their own sex.

Akari ($5) and Icebath ($51) finished seventh and sixth respectively in the $200,000 Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) last Friday week; both no more than a length from the winner Asiago.

“Akari will trial leading into the Carr Stakes, and Icebath is likely to run in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1500m) for fillies and mares at Rosehill Gardens on Wednesday week,” Widdup said.

“They both ran really well at Kembla.”

Widdup also has a promising youngster in the Pierro two-year-old Wheelhouse, who was narrowly beaten on debut at Newcastle last Thursday.

“He is a very nice colt who has come through the race well. Most likely we will look for another suitable race for him in the coming weeks.”