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  • Provincial Racing NSW


HAWKESBURY’S leading trainer Brad Widdup ended a frustrating run of minor placings by winning at Warwick Farm today with a mare who was most likely having her last run for him.

Widdup’s decision to book apprentice Amy McLucas for Good Omens ($5.50) in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) against her own sex proved decisive as she led throughout and managed to hold off Outsider ($5) and Endorphins ($9) in a tight finish.

McLucas’ 3kg claim reduced the six-year-old So You Think mare’s weight to 55.5kg, and she rode her at a controlled pace despite being taken on early by Lovetheinvasion ($10), who finished last.

McLucas secured what proved a winning break on the home turn, and Good Omens’ rivals weren’t able to overhaul her.

Widdup has had 12 placegetters (six seconds and the same number of thirds) since scoring with Fun Sunday at Canterbury on June 21, and was understandably delighted to be back in the winning list near season’s end.

“The horses have been racing well without winning, so it was nice to turn it around today,” Widdup said.

“Good Omens’ owners are looking to offer her online as a racing and breeding proposition, and that was probably her last run for me.

“We’ve won four races with the mare, including two in town, so I’m happy with what we have achieved with her.”

Good Omens began her career with Chris Waller, who won a 1500m Kembla Grange Maiden with her in April 2021 from eight starts before she joined Widdup’s team last year.

Her Warwick Farm success gave Widdup his 58th winner of the season, and put him within five of a career 300.

“It’s been another good season,” he said. “We have 53 boxes and got those 58 winners, including a Group 1 breakthrough in Melbourne last spring with Icebath, and the season isn’t over yet,” he said.

CO-TRAINER Jason Attard believes there are “some nice races ahead” for his progressive four-year-old Ruby Flyer, who took the next step by winning in town today.

Considering the gelding was a late starter and didn’t begin racing until early in this current season, and has now won four of his last five runs, it’s easy to agree with his comments.

Ridden by 1.5kg claimer Zac Lloyd, who got one back on his rival Dylan Gibbons for Sydney apprentice premiership honours, well-backed $2.50 favorite Ruby Flyer was never going to lose the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) against his own sex at Warwick Farm once he settled in the “box seat”.

In an all-provincial finish, Hawkesbury’s gelded son of Flying Artie defeated Newcastle’s Olympic Gaze ($21) and Kembla Grange’s Main Stage ($14).

“Ruby Flyer wasn’t broken in when he came to my wife Lucy (co-trainer) and myself as a two-year-old, and we took our time with him,” Attard said.

“He broke in very easily, and I always thought he would be allright.

“He has a lot of the same attributes as his mother. She was very tough, and he is the same.”

Attard, when training solo, prepared Ruby Flyer’s dam Kellyville Flyer, and won six races with her, including three in town, and she was also placed in Happy Clapper’s 2017 Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket.

He is now likely to give the gelding a short break before chasing further successes with him.

“Ruby Flyer can have an easy time at home for a week or two, and go a lap or two in the equine pool each day,” Attard said.

“We can keep a close eye on him, and decide when the time is right to put him back into work.

“Because he hasn’t had a lot of racing to date, I’m sure he has the ability to win some nice races in the future.”

Whilst Ruby Flyer’s last two victories over 1600m – at Newcastle on June 24 and today – have been on good tracks, Attard considers he is even better on rain-affected ground.

“His Mum was a really good wet tracker, and Ruby Flyer’s first two wins were on soft tracks,” he said.

“It’s good to know he can handle both, but he’s definitely better with the sting out of the ground.”

The Hawkesbury conditioner withdrew Ruby Flyer from a Midway Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick last Saturday when he drew the outside barrier in a big field (coincidentally, today’s second and third placegetters also were absentees), and didn’t hesitate to book young gun Lloyd for today’s assignment.

“Zac rode him when he finished fifth at both his first two runs at Kembla Grange last August and September, and loved the horse,” Attard said.

“He also rode him when he broke through for his first win at Wyong in late April.”

Attard’s wife Lucy Keegan-Attard is spending time with her family in the UK, and he was very complimentary of the manner in which his staff has stepped up in her absence.

“I’ve had great support from our staff, who have done an amazing job,” he said.

. Whilst Ruby Flyer put Lloyd within one win from Gibbons in the premiership, the Novocastrian took a two-win advantage when he landed the closer on his master Kris Lees’ filly Powerful Peg ($6.50).

Gosford trainer Adam Duggan continued his great run of late and excellent season when Boss ($7) out sped his rivals in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m).

*Words John Curtis, July 19, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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