SUNDAY: August 23, 2020: LEADING Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup clinched a new season breakthrough at Newcastle yesterday.
But his hopes of a big day for the stable were dashed at the corresponding opening Group 1 meeting of the season at Royal Randwick, where luck deserted him.
Widdup landed the Maiden Plate (1885m) at Newcastle with $3.70 second favorite Vegareign (Mitchell Bell), however his Randwick fancies Adelong and Icebath were unable to follow on, though both ran well.
Adelong ($2.15 favorite), tackling black type company for the first time, finished sixth (beaten only two lengths) in the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1100m), whilst Icebath again was luckless, going under narrowly in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m).
It has taken 10 starts and a number of stable changes for Vegareign, a $70,000 Gold Coast yearling purchase in 2017, to clinch his first win.
Having his fourth start since joining Widdup’s team, the now five-year-old worked early after being trapped wide to eventually settle outside the leader in the back straight.
He took the lead after straightening and was never threatened from then on, holding out $1.85 favorite Olympic Gaze and $17 chance Avalene.
Widdup trained 41 winners in each of the two previous seasons, and yesterday’s victory was the 139th of his brief career.
He is Vegareign’s third trainer and is confident he can go on with the job now that he has shed his maiden status.
“His run at his previous start at Newcastle was good (second to the promising Sky Lab) was good, and I expected him to run well again yesterday,” Widdup said.
“I’m looking forward to getting him out further in distance.”
Prominent Queensland breeder-owner Mary-Lee Trivett asked Widdup to train Vegareign, and he was naturally delighted to get a breakthrough success with him for her and fellow owners.
Widdup reported his talented mares Adelong and Icebath had come through their first-up runs this campaign without any problems.
Adelong was unplaced for the first time and suffered only the third defeat of her nine-start career (six wins and two placings), and her trainer was understandably forgiving of her defeat.
“She worked hard to get to the front, and wasn’t beaten far,” Widdup said.
Icebath was placed for the third time in a row in town when she just failed to overhaul Zakat ($15) after being forced to race wide, and surely a city victory is just around the corner.
“They didn’t go quickly enough for Bossy (jockey Glen Boss) to get cover on her,” Widdup said.
“In the circumstances she did a terrific job.”
Whilst both mares pulled up well, Widdup was uncertain about their next assignments.
“There’s the Sheraco Stakes in a few weeks, but I’ll see how they progress before making a decision,” he said.
The $200,000 Group 2 Sheraco (1200m) is a set weights plus penalties event for fillies and mares, and will be run at Rosehill Gardens on September 12.