TUESDAY: October 11, 2022: BRAD Widdup returned home this evening from Newcastle with a “double” – a winner on the track and the Max Lees Medal.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer was delighted to get a breakthrough with well-bred mare Youthfull, who opened her four-year-old season with an authoritative victory in the Provincial Maiden Handicap (1600m).
And he finally was presented with the Max Lees Medal, which is awarded annually by Newcastle Jockey Club to the trainer with the best strike rate during each season.
Brad’s 14 winners from 51 starters at Broadmeadow last season clinched him the medal with a strike rate of 3.64.
Youthfull, a daughter of international star and successful sire So You Think, was a $375,000 purchase for BK Racing & Breeding at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale, and is a younger sister to 2018 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas winner D’Argento.
She was having her 10th start today – and first since April – and proved a class above her rivals.
Given a great run just off the pace by Mitchell Bell, Youthfull ($2.20 favorite) stretched out strongly over the last 200m to score by more than four lengths from World Atlas ($5.50) and Gripping ($5).
“It was the perfect race to kick off her campaign,” Brad said on his way home. “We didn’t have to worry about taking on Sydney maidens.
“It was very pleasing to get a win with Youthfull for BK Racing & Breeding and their racing manager Ben Vassallo, who have been and continue to be great supporters of the stable.”
With such a good pedigree, Brad gave Youthfull the chance to earn some black type last season when he ran her in races such as the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m), Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (1850m),and Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) during the autumn.
Whilst she wasn’t able to achieve that, he turned her out after the Oaks on April 9 at Royal Randwick, knowing she had further maturing to do.
“She still isn’t fully there, but I knew she was ready to run well first-up today in such a suitable race,” he said.
“There was no point starting her in anything shorter than the 1600m.
“I’m confident she will manage up to at least 2000m.”
. Tommy Berry will be back on Icebath when she chases a second The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday week.
Brad’s stable star won the inaugural running of the $2m feature for fillies and mares last year, and is the current $4.50 favorite with TAB.com.au to successfully defend her title.
Berry rode Icebath when she ran an excellent second to crack four-year-old Anamoe in the Group 1 wfa George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 17.
James McDonald, who partners favorite Anamoe in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley the same day The Invitation is run, was aboard when Icebath ran fourth in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick a fortnight later, and Brad says the mare has done well since.