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SYDNEY or Brisbane?

That was the choice Brad Widdup had to make this weekend with his dual State acceptor; whether he chased a Listed victory interstate with talented five-year-old Ruby Flyer or stay at home for a 1600m Handicap.

And whilst he says it wasn’t the easiest decision at the time to go with the latter and focus on Royal Randwick, more rain in Sydney has gone a long way to backing his selection.

The leading Hawkesbury trainer has withdrawn accomplished wet tracker Ruby Flyer from the Listed Spear Chief Handicap (1500m) at the Oaks meeting at Eagle Farm, and he will chase a second city victory (and first for his trainer) at Randwick.

Widdup was heartened to hear Randwick was downgraded further to a “Heavy 9” rating (with a 6.06 penetrometer reading) at 8am on Friday after another 41.7mm of rain was recorded in the previous 24 hours (211mm in the past seven days).

As Alysha Collett remains sidelined with an eye injury suffered at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday before the last five races were called off, Dylan Gibbons takes the mount.

“It’s not an easy decision to make if you are thinking of going interstate because you can’t leave it until late in the week,” Widdup said.

“But the mile at Randwick on wet ground with more rain around certainly helped our choice.

“Ruby Flyer has done well since his last start third over the same distance at Randwick a fortnight ago.”

That was Ruby Flyer’s first run in a month, and he won a Kembla Grange Qualifier (1400m) of the Provincial-Midway Championships in March on a ‘Heavy 8’ at his first start since joining Widdup’s team.

Whilst Widdup welcomed the rain with Ruby Flyer, it was the opposite with Short Shorts in the Benchmark 94 Handicap (1300m).

 Though she won a Newcastle Maiden (1300m) on debut in November 2021 on a ‘Heavy 8’, she has not been placed in four subsequent starts on that type of ground.

Widdup also has both last start Hawkesbury winner Be Real (Tyler Schiller) and recent Canterbury winner Physicist (Regan Bayliss) engaged in the 3YO Benchmark 72 Handicap (2000m), and dual acceptor Fire Lane will contest the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m), with Reece Jones her rider.

.Widdup claimed his 55th winner of the current season with Guzumped at Wyong on Thursday, in the Class 1 Handicap (1600m) as a $1.75 hotpot.

It was 12 months between victories for Guzumped, and his trainer was obviously pleased to get the lightly raced four-year-old back in winning form.

He was quick to point out why there has been a gap between his gelding’s two career successes.

“Guzumped has had a couple of issues,” he said. “He had a quarter crack in a foot, and we had to give him time off.

“He has been pretty consistent with three seconds and a third in between the two wins.

“That was only his ninth start and second this preparation, and there is definitely more improvement in him.

“As he gets fitter I’m sure he will handle further than today’s 1600m, especially as he was runner-up twice last winter over 2100m at Hawkesbury and Gosford.”

Guzumped was a $200,000 Magic Millions yearling buy at the Gold Coast in 2021, and began his career in Sydney with Mark Newnham, who started him only once as a two-year-old (at Wyong in July, 2022).

When Newnham relocated to Hong Kong last year, the Dundeel gelding was transferred to Widdup, who made an immediate impact by scoring first-up with him in a Kembla Grange Provincial Maiden Plate (1600m) on May 23 last year.

Story John Curtis, June 7, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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