FEBRUARY 13, 2024:  BRAD Widdup considered there was an important extra bonus to his first success with Troika at home today.

The leading Hawkesbury trainer was rapt to see his apprentice Zac Wadick produce a positive ride on the gelding, who led throughout to land the Pioneer Services Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) at $12.

“That will do Zac so much good; I’m sure it will be a real confidence booster for him,” Brad said this evening.

“I had mentioned to him that if Troika began well, he should go forward and not mess about.

“Zac isn’t a negative rider, but it was great to see him show today that he can ride all the way winners.”

Having only his second start for Brad after being transferred when Mark Newnham relocated to Hong Kong, Russian Revolution four-year-old Troika tenaciously held on to stall a late burst from fellow Hawkesbury representative, Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard’s Stars And Bars ($4.20).

Troika had trialled well at both Kembla Grange and Warwick Farm before resuming at Nowra on January 14 when fifth in a Class 3 Handicap (1000m) as a $3.60 favorite (beaten only one and a half lengths).

“He probably would have won that day if Zac had gone forward instead of getting back, and no doubt he learnt from that,” Brad enthused. 

Zac’s 3kg claim proved invaluable today as Troika carried 56.5kg, 3.5kg less than the runner-up, who almost snatched victory on the post.

Laurel Oak Bloodstock outlaid $150,000 to purchase Troika as a weanling in 2020, and the gelding has now raced 10 times for three wins; his previous two being early last year at Goulburn and Kembla Grange, both over 1000m.

Troika’s victory followed Brad’s purchase of two youngsters – both fillies – at the Inglis Classic yearling sale at the Riverside complex.

He secured a daughter of North Pacific for $180,000, and paid the same amount to get a daughter of Spirit Of Boom.

Brad is looking forward to getting his smart sprinter Phearson back to the races in the coming weeks.

He was pleased with Phearson’s close second in an 842m Open trial at Warwick Farm yesterday morning.

Tom Sherry, who won the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on December 2 on the gelding, was aboard in the trial.

“I’ll probably trial Phearson again next week,” Brad said.

“Then he can resume in either the Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Randwick on March 2 or Newcastle Stakes (1400m) at Broadmeadow six days later.”