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  • Provincial Racing NSW


HAWKESBURY trainers Brad Widdup and Edward Cummings at Doomben on Saturday are both chasing a Stradbroke Handicap “free ticket”.

They will be rivals in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m); Widdup with Phearson (Tommy Berry) and Cummings with Strait Acer (Mark Zahra).

Though weights have not yet been released for the $3m Group 1 Stradbroke (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 15, the BRC Sprint winner is automatically guaranteed a berth in the field.

Dual Group 3 winner Phearson (pictured) has made a quick recovery from a black eye which forced his withdrawal from last Saturday’s Group 3 Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone, whilst this year’s Provincial-Midway Championships Final runner-up Strait Acer has been in the north preparing for the Doomben assignment.

“I’m convinced Phearson is best placed between 1300m-1400m, and won’t run him again at 1600m,” Widdup said, referring to the gelding’s Royal Randwick 1600m defeats in both the Group 2 The Ingham last December (a week after winning the Group 3 Festival Stakes, 1500m at Rosehill Gardens) and Group 1 Doncaster Mile in April.

Phearson won the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) first-up at Randwick in early March before failing in both the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill and Doncaster Mile.

“Phearson must have given his eye a good knock in the stable last week, but was treated and recovered quickly,” Widdup said.

“Tommy Berry was keen to ride him on Saturday, and feels he will get across from his wide barrier.

“We felt it was best to run him in the BRC Sprint rather than wait another week for the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Stakes (1300m) at Eagle Farm, which is run at weight-for-age and certainly won’t be any easier than the Doomben race.

“The Stradbroke is a pipedream, but I’ll bring him home after Saturday and go back in three weeks if he wins the BRC Sprint.”

Strait Acer was a beaten favorite when fourth in the $775,000 The Archer (1300m) at Rockhampton on April 28, but was beaten only a length and Cummings described his run as excellent.

“It was a big ask as he had to be in Rockhampton within a fortnight of finishing second (to Territory Express) in the Provincial-Midway Final,” he said.

“He did all his work between the 800m and 200m at Rockhampton, and it was understandable he knocked up at the end.

“Strait Acer went to Brisbane after The Archer and has improved a lot with the good break between runs.

“The Stradbroke is definitely our aim, and he’s drawn well in the BRC Sprint to get his chance to be guaranteed a start.”

Cummings had a mixed day at his home track at Hawkesbury today after beginning the meeting with high hopes of going home with a double.

Debutante Odegaard ($8) landed the Blakes Marine Provincial Handicap (1300m), but unfortunately $4.60 second favorite Three Wise Men bled from both nostrils during the running of the Clarendon Tavern Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m), and dropped out after appearing to be travelling well mid-race.

Cummings paid $200,000 for Shamus Award three-year-old Odegaard (Tim Clark) at the 2022 Inglis Australian Easter yearling sale, and the gelding was named by part-owner Don Dickie, who played 55 games for Port Adelaide Power in the AFL national competition.

Norwegian footballer Martin Odegaard captains Arsenal in the English Premier League.

“Odegaard (the horse) is from a very good family, with plenty of speed and stamina,” Cummings said.

“I have had to be patient with him, and it was good to see him perform so well on debut.

“I’ve got no doubt he is going to manage further distances.”

Odegaard was Cummings’ 11th winner of the season and, fittingly, he is by the same sire (Shamus Award) as his now retired triple Group 1 winner Duais.

The three-year-old is the first foal of his dam Tinted Witness, who raced only twice and was exported to New Zealand in 2022.

Her first foal died, and her second foal, the now four-year-old mare Tainted Award, never raced.

Both were also sired by Cox Plate winner Shamus Award.

Odegaard responded strongly in the straight to defeat Miss Cartel ($5) and $3.30 favorite Lady Justice.

Whilst Widdup will be at Doomben, he will have three representatives at Saturday’s Randwick meeting.

Alysha Collett rides Physicist (3YO Benchmark 72 Handicap, 1800m) and Ruby Flyer (Benchmark 94 Handicap, 1600m), and Rory Hutchings partners Fire Lane in the Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1000m).

. Leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price went close to landing a Hawkesbury double today.

Whilst they protested unsuccessfully with narrow runner-up Invade and Conquer ($11) against winner Equipage ($1.85 favorite) in the Super Maiden Plate (1100m), the duo later won the Class 1 Handicap (1300m) with Monte Maximus ($6.50).

Champion apprentice Zac Lloyd’s victory on Equipage extended his lead in the Hawkesbury jockeys’ premiership.

With five meetings left before the season ends, Lloyd has ridden 13 and a half winners, two and a half wins ahead of last year’s winner Tyler Schiller.

Story John Curtis, May 23, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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