SUNDAY: August 20, 2023: A city winner on two of the first three Saturdays of the new racing year!

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup could hardly have started the 2023-24 season much better as he edges toward a career 300 tally.

Following on from Travelling Kate’s initial city success at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday, Brad came up trumps again at Royal Randwick yesterday, this time with another maiden city winner Tintookie.

And his 298th winner in what is the beginning of his seventh full season of training had a special touch to it.

“We have a great group of people in the mare, including her breeder Ralph Tiernan and a couple of mates of mine Dean O’Brien and Jeremy Norris, whom I have known since my school days at Albury,” Brad said today.

“Dean has a trucking business in Albury, and Jeremy has the Byng Street café in Orange.

“Dean and myself were born three days apart in Albury, so we go back a long way.

“The boys know how to give me stick, in jest of course, in a group chat, but I’ve had the last laugh because they now have a Randwick winner.”

Given a beaut ride from the rails alley by Jean Van Overmeire, who rode a double, Tintookie ($6.50) chased down the leader and $2.30 favorite Time To Boogie in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m), and responded gamely to hold off King Of Naples’ ($7) late finish.

That was her third win – she has also been placed five times – from only 11 starts, more than repaying the $30,000 Brad gave to secure her at the Inglis Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association yearling sale in Sydney in 2021.

Tintookie’s breakthrough metropolitan win lifted her earnings to just over $200,000, including a BOBS bonus – and she is definitely no puppet.

The cleverly-named now four-year-old, a daughter of Winning Rupert, is the only foal of the Dylan Thomas mare Lady Marionette.

Tintookie was bred by Ralph Kiernan, who decided to stay in her when purchased by Brad. 

“She was a good sort as a yearling, and my idea was to get her ready for the $200,000 Inglis 2YO Challenge at the Scone carnival in May last year,” Brad said.

“However, things went wrong and I finished up scrapping that plan and giving her a break.”

Tintookie won a 2YO Maiden (1000m) on debut at Goulburn in July last year, and also a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m) against her own sex at Gosford in February.

Brad put a nose roll on the mare yesterday, but wasn’t certain that was solely responsible for her return to winning form.

“I wanted to get her a bit more focused in her races, and she had worked well wearing the nose roll,” he said.

“However, I think the soft track (Tintookie’s Goulburn victory came on a Heavy 10 surface) was the real difference, and Jean gave her a great ride.

“She doesn’t like being crowded by other horses, and once Jean got her out into the clear to go after Time To Boogie, she really put her mind on the job.”

Tintookie’s previous four starts this campaign, which included two placings, were all in Benchmark 72 Handicaps in town, and Brad stepped her up to a Benchmark 78, which meant a decent drop in weight to 53.5kg.