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  • Provincial Racing NSW


EDWARD Cummings clinched his 50th solo career winner yesterday at Royal Randwick, and Brad Widdup and Team Attard book-ended their home track meeting.

It meant the Hawkesbury training base got September away to a flying start, claiming five races in the first two days of the second month of the new season.

And fellow provincial trainers, Wyong’s Kim Waugh and Kembla Grange’s Rob and Luke Price chimed in Hawkesbury, also winning races.

Waugh won the Provincial Maiden Plate (1000m) with $18 chance Smashing Dancer (Alysha Collett), and the Price boys the Class 1 Handicap (1300m) with $19 chance Extreme Freedom (Brock Ryan).

Cummings landed the Randwick opener, the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) with Strait Acer ($4.60), Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Widdup also the Hawkesbury opener with Manhattan’s ($3.20), and husband and wife Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard the closer with Oh Golly Gosh ($6.50).

The three wins followed on from Widdup and Mike Van Gestel scoring at Wyong and Canberra respectively a day earlier; the five victories lifting to 19 the number of winners trained from Hawkesbury so far in this new season.

Strait Acer (Jason Collett) absolutely trounced his rivals at Randwick to make it two city wins on end, and looks destined for much better things.

A $25,000 Inglis Ready2Race purchase in 2021 as an unraced early two-year-old, the Headwater four-year-old steamed home by a widening three plus lengths and is really hitting his straps this preparation.

“Randwick is the perfect track for Strait Acer,” Cummings said afterwards.

“We knew that we didn’t have him quite at his best all preparation, and he’s starting to get there now.

“Hopefully, he keeps finding new levels each time.

“Being a four-year-old, there are opportunities later in the carnival for him, with some big money prizes too.”

It was fitting that Cummings should bring up his 50th winner at Randwick, where he co-trained with father Anthony before branching out on his own and setting up shop at Hawkesbury in February 2019.

His first winner was Gin Runner at Wellington in July that year, and he can already number three Group 1 triumphs, courtesy of his classy mare Duais.

Widdup, also a Group 1 winning trainer, was pleased to get lightly-raced Manhattan’s first victory out of the way when she broke through at home in the Ladies Day Thursday November 9 Maiden Plate (1400m) at only her fourth start.

Ridden by Jean Van Overmeire, who rode a treble at the meeting and continued his current position as NSW premiership leader (now 24 wins), Manhattan’s did best to overhaul $2.90 favorite River Tamar in the closing stages.

A daughter of Hellbent and Snitzel mare Air Apparent, Manhattan’s was a $250,000 purchase at the Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sale in January last year, and is raced by a ladies’ syndicate, which includes Widdup’s wife Milissa.

“I feel she will run at least 1600m,” Widdup said.

“We will keep her going for now to help both toughen her and get more experience, and with an eye to the Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast in January.

“You have to consider it with such big prizemoney races available.”

Team Attard also continued a successful run, taking the Richmond Club Midway Benchmark 68 Handicap (1400m) with Oh Golly Gosh, who notched the third win (she has also been placed six times) of her 18-start career.

Ridden by Keagan Latham, the six-year-old daughter of Artie Schiller made the running and defeated another provincial pair, Kembla Grange trainer Joe Ible’s Patrika Mist ($19) and Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane’s $3.60 favorite The Great Houdini.

Co-trainer Lucy Keegan-Attard had a busy day, taking third placegetter Stars and Bars ($8.50) to Randwick for an early 11.45am start, then returning home to collect husband Jason and Oh Golly Gosh for the last at Hawkesbury.

“We were thrilled to win another race for Kate Nivison (Etak Thoroughbreds) and her syndicate which races the mare,” Keegan-Attard said.

“Kate has been a wonderfully loyal supporter of our stable, and we have become good friends along with building an excellent business relationship.”

Keegan-Attard paid tribute to farrier Rodney Brazzil for the work he has done, not only with Oh Golly Gosh, but other members of the couple’s team.

“Oh Golly Gosh has been troubled by bad feet, but Rodney and his team have worked hard to get them right, and it has made a real difference.”

The Attards have sent their talented Rowley Mile placegetter Ruby Flyer to the paddock, confident better things are ahead with him.

“He did a terrific job last preparation, winning four races from six starts and running such a great race stepping up to Listed company in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury last month, and as an early season five-year-old has raced only 10 times,” Lucy Keegan-Attard said.

“There’s every reason to believe there is further improvement in him.”

*Words John Curtis, September 3, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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