THURSDAY: April 20, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup at Wyong today edged to within one win of a half-century for the season.

But he isn’t so sure his victory with Youthfull will carry on to further success at his home track stand-alone meeting on Saturday, where he will have two runners.

Four-year-old So You Think mare Youthfull ($2.70 favorite) posted the third win of her career in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m) after an inspired Chad Schofield ride.

Schofield gave Youthfull a perfect run, one out and one back in harness racing terms, but aware it wasn’t going to be easy gaining ground on the heavy track, got going well before the home turn to make his move.

It proved wise as Youthfull had to call on her stamina reserves to narrowly outstay Dreamdeel ($2.90) after the pair had duelled down the running.

“Chad and the mare both did a good job,” Brad said this evening after returning home from Wyong.

“I wasn’t concerned about stepping her up from the 1850m at Newcastle last week when she ran fourth.

“The extra distance today suited, and it was good to see her get back into winning form.

“I will probably look for another race around 2200m for her next start.”

A younger sister to 2018 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas winner D’Argento, Youthfull was a $375,000 yearling purchase for great stable supporters, BK Racing & Breeding, in 2020.

The grey mare was Brad’s 49th winner in 2022-23, and his 286th overall.

He is hoping Hawkesbury escapes any further rain to boost the prospects of Short Shorts (Alysha Collett) in Saturday’s $200,000 Group 3 Pioneer Services Hawkesbury Crown (1300m).

Hawkesbury was rated a “Soft 5” today after only a very minimal amount of rain through the course of the day. 

Short Shorts smashed the Kembla Grange 1400m course record in a Provincial-Midway Championship Qualifier last month before striking a heavy track and finishing fifth in Spangler’s $500,000 Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 8.

“She doesn’t fancy heavy ground, so here’s hoping there is no more rain,” Brad said.

“Richmond Road was the driest part of the trip home from Wyong, so that was encouraging.”

Brad is yet to decide whether recent Warwick Farm winner Ausbred Flirt runs in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) or the shorter Benchmark 88 Handicap (1500m), where she has drawn better but is third emergency.

“She has trained on well since winning at Warwick Farm,” he said.

Authentic Jewel, Brad’s other Hawkesbury acceptor, won’t run in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m), where she has drawn poorly.