SUNDAY: February 6, 2022: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup at Goulburn today made it two wins in a few days as he edged closer to a record-breaking season. 

Lightly-raced three-year-old The Poacher’s victory was his 29th winner since August 1, and lifted the trainer’s prizemoney earnings to $2.91m in just over the first half of the 2021-22 racing year.

Brad’s horses tallied a benchmark $3.72m last season, during which he prepared 36 winners.

His successes with Sonic Tycoon at Gosford last Thursday and The Poacher today came on the eve of stable star Icebath’s return to racing at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Icebath, with Kerrin McEvoy aboard, launches her autumn campaign in the $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m); her first test at weight-for-age.

Whilst Brad is delighted with his classy mare’s progress, he was also pleased to get a win on the board with The Poacher (Blake Spriggs), who was having only his third start and his first since a break.

The Poacher ($3 favorite) overcame a wide passage in windy conditions in the Maiden Plate (1200m), but showed his ability when he forged clear in the closing stages.

He had more than two and a half lengths to spare at the end from Fragore ($10), with Choisir’s Choice ($3.20) third.

The Poacher, a son of No Nay Never, is the third foal of the Lonhro mare and twice NSW country winner Cascada, and fetched $105,000 when offered as a weanling.

He is one of several horses Brad prepares for Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds.

Never one to put false wraps on young horses, he is taking things steadily with The Poacher.

“Whilst he did a good job today, the field in the Goulburn race fell away,” Brad said this evening.

“We’ll look for another suitable race in the coming weeks.

“The Poacher is a big, solid unit and there should be further improvement in him.”

A debut second on the Kensington track on September 15 last year, the gelding started favorite 15 days later when he led and finished fifth in a 1200m Maiden at Wyong.

However, he lunged forward in the barrier and made contact with the front of his stall and subsequently was passed fit to start.

Still, he may have been feeling the effects of that incident and Brad wisely did not continue with his preparation, instead choosing to give him a break.