SUNDAY: June 19, 2022: BRAD Widdup’s breakout season keeps getting better.
A winner on his home track last Sunday, a double at Goulburn on Friday and another double at Kembla Grange yesterday completed a great week for Hawkesbury’s leading trainer.
Brad’s victories with Sepoy Star ($2 favorite) and Zouson Boy ($7.50) took him to 54 for the season (51 being his previous best in his first full season of training in 2017-18).
Along with 105 placings, his horses have earned nearly $4.6m in prizemoney, which included landing the inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Royal Randwick last October with stable star Icebath.
“It’s been an excellent season; no complaints at all from me,” Brad said this evening.
Sepoy Star, raced by Waratah Thoroughbreds, gamely held out Pole Position ($4.60) to land the Class 1 Handicap (1200m).
The four-year-old daughter of 2011 Golden Slipper winner Sepoy has raced only five times for two wins and two seconds, and finished fourth at her only other start, when resuming at Hawkesbury on May 19.
Brad yesterday took Sepoy Star back to Kembla Grange, where she made a winning debut in a 1200m Maiden Plate on July 8 last year.
She then finished second in a 3YO Benchmark 64 Handicap (1150m) on the Kensington track 20 days later, but was subsequently off the scene for a considerable time.
“Sepoy Star required surgery on a back fetlock, and that’s why she didn’t race again until recently,” Brad explained.
Zoustar three-year-old Zouson Boy, an $80,000 purchase at the 2020 Inglis Classic yearling sale, is the first horse Brad has trained for John Moore, the legendary Australian who trained so successfully in Hong Kong for more than three decades, winning seven premierships and producing champions such as Viva Pataca, Beauty Generation and Able Friend, before being forced into retirement there by Hong Kong Jockey Club at the end of the 2019-20 season.
After returning home, Moore trained for a short period on the Gold Coast and gave the two-year-old three starts in Brisbane late last year before pulling the pin in January.
Zouson Boy joined Brad’s team on the recommendation of a friend of his wife Milissa.
The youngster made his debut for his new stable when seventh in a Newcastle Maiden (1200m) on a heavy track a fortnight ago, beaten only two and a half lengths.
“I like the horse and thought he would race closer that day, but began awkwardly and got back,” Brad said.
“Once he jumped better yesterday and took up the running, he was always going to be hard to beat.”
Zouson Boy romped home by more than three lengths from $51 outsider Spinpix and Sacred Alba ($17) in the Maiden Plate (1300m).
Brad’s hopes of a Kembla Grange treble were dashed when $3.40 favorite Kyalla dropped out to finish last in the Class 1 Handicap (1400m).
“Beforehand, I thought she was my best chance,” he said. “I’ll get our vet to come out tomorrow and check her over.”
. Jean Van Overmeire has ridden Brad’s last five winners, including yesterday’s double, but his day was soured in the stewards’ room.
RacingNSW stewards outed him for excessive use of the whip on Sepoy Star, ruling he had used it nine times prior to the 100m on the mare, but said they could not be satisfied an advantage had been gained and did not proceed with a formal protest.
This was Van Overmeire’s sixth offence under the whip rule, and he pleaded guilty to the charge. His suspension begins on June 28 and ends on July 3.
. Icebath has been back in her Hawkesbury stable for a while now, and Brad reports he is happy with the mare as he plots a spring campaign with the rising six-year-old.