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  • Provincial Racing NSW


PROVINCIAL trainers had a field day at Wyong today, snaring six of the eight races.

Whilst the first two events went to Sydney trainers John Thompson and David Payne, it was all provincial after that.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup rung up 50 wins for the season when Lizzie’s Gem broke through in the Maiden Handicap (1000m).

On top of that came the news that his talented mare Ausbred Flirt had secured a start in Saturday’s $250,000 Richmond Club Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m).

Ausbred Flirt (Alysha Collett) was first emergency for the Group 3 feature, and was elevated into the field following the withdrawal of Victorian gelding Munhamek.

A $475,000 yearling purchase at the 2022 Magic Millions sale at the Gold Coast, Lizzie’s Gem ($1.85 favorite) was ridden by stable apprentice Zac Wadick.

His provincial allowance has recently been reduced to 2kg – and it proved decisive in a very tight finish.

Lizzie’s Gem, a three-year-old daughter of Deep Field and having her seventh start and racing in a tongue tie, travelled kindly outside the leader Du Cap ($5) before the pair fought out a tense dual in the straight.

Widdup’s filly nosed out Du Cap, who carried 0.5kg more, right on the line.

“Lizzie’s Gem isn’t a big filly, and Zac’s claim was certainly important,” Widdup said on Thursday evening.

“I gave her only the one trial (she easily won an 800m heat at home on April 16), and this looked a very suitable race to begin her campaign.

“It was nice to get her maiden out of the way after she was narrowly beaten on the Beaumont track on Boxing Day.”

This is the fourth occasion in seven full seasons that Hawkesbury’s leading trainer has “hit” a half century of winners.

He prepared 51 winners in 2017-18 in his first full season, 63 in 2021-22 and 59 last racing year, and is now only four short of a career 350 victories.

Whilst Ausbred Flirt has made the Cup field, stablemate Ruby Flyer (sixth emergency) still needs plenty of withdrawals to take his place in the field at his home track, where he ran third in the Listed Rowley Mile last August before a break.

Fellow provincial trainers Tracey Bartley and Kim Waugh (Wyong), Paul Perry and Mark Minervini (Newcastle), and Gosford’s Nick Mitchell all enjoyed success.

Bartley won the Class 1 Handicap (1600m) with $13 chance Magicon, highlighted in Frances O’Shea’s pre-meeting preview.

Waugh’s Dimaggio ($2.40 favorite) took the Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap (1350m) on the eve of attempting to also win Saturday’s Group 3 Hawkesbury Crown with Provincial-Midway Final placegetter and favorite Shadows Of Love.

Perry’s Bodgie ($3.80) took the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) against his own sex for apprentice Zac Lloyd, and another apprentice Braith Nock, seeking to make his mark on the provincial scene, rode splendidly to get Minervini’s Smiling Prophet ($5) home in the F&M Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m).

Mitchell’s $13 chance Smart Serenade (Robbie Downey) easily beat only four rivals in the Provincial Maiden Handicap (1350m).

Story John Curtis, May 2024 - Pics Steve Hart Photographics

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