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BRAD Widdup has his wife’s sister to thank for getting the chance to win The Invitation (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday for a second time.

And even more so if his talented mare Ausbred Flirt beats her fellow “girls” home.

The $2m Invitation, for 12 invited fillies and mares, has been run only twice – and Hawkesbury’s leading trainer won the inaugural event in 2021 with Icebath (Kerrin McEvoy).

“I have to thank my wife Milissa’s sister Bettina for her part in Ausbred Flirt gaining a start,” Widdup explained today.

“Bettina looks after our race nominations and noticed on Monday morning that there were only nine entries for The Invitation.

“She mentioned it to me and we contacted Ben Dunn (RacingNSW general manager – Racing) about the possibility of running in The Invitation.

“I had already nominated Ausbred Flirt for the Group 2 Tesio Stakes (1600m) at the Cox Plate meeting at The Valley on Saturday, and intended to run there.

“When Ben later came back and confirmed an invitation for Randwick, that changed.

“How do you knock back an invitation to run in a $2m race?

“You want to support it, especially being a local feature, and naturally it would be great to win it again.”

Whilst Icebath was second favorite for the inaugural running, Ausbred Flirt is a $23 ($41 was bet) outsider with, but that doesn’t concern Widdup in the least.

“Ausbred Flirt is in good order, racing in great form this preparation and maps well for Saturday’s race,” he said.

“She won first-up over 1400m at Randwick before finishing second (to Renaissance Woman) in the Group 3 Angst Stakes after having to work to cross from an awkward draw.

“I know she is coming back from 1600m to 1400m, but I don’t see that being a problem (Icebath came back from the 1600m of the Epsom two years ago to win The Invitation).”

A $115,000 Inglis Australian Easter yearling sale purchase, the now five-year-old Ausbred Flirt has won five of her 13 starts and earned just over $265,000, and has won both her 1400m starts.

Ausbred Flirt is the sole provincial runner in The Invitation, with Newcastle mare Razeta being first emergency and needing a withdrawal to get into the field.

Widdup dually accepted with last start winner Fire Lane at both Randwick (Listed Brian Crowley Stakes, 1200m) and The Valley (Listed Crockett Stakes, 1200m), but is staying home to contest the former.

Fire Lane, a three-year-old daughter of Hellbent, returned to winning form, overcoming the outside barrier under 58kg to land a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) against her own sex at Warwick Farm on October 11.

She won the Max Lees Classic (900m) on debut at Newcastle in November last year, and has contested Listed and Group races for most of her 10-start career.

“Fire Lane is as tough as nails,” Widdup said. “I’m really happy with her at present, and she has drawn nicely this time back against her own age.”

Widdup also starts Ausbred Rising Sun in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m). Tyler Schiller rides him and also fellow Hawkesbury trainer Ed Cummings’ Long Genes in the $2m Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).

. Other provincial trainers with Randwick runners are:

RACE 1: Kristen Buchanan (Cecil Street Lad), Sara Ryan (Chief Conductor), John Bannister (Poseidon Ruler), Joe Ible (Cuban Granchico), Mark Minervini (Fire and Ice), Scott Aspery (Annulus), Ross McConville (Sawrey), Kerry Parker (Maresca), Rob and Luke Price (Spirit Of Varanasi);

RACE 2: Nathan Doyle (Dalaalat);

RACE 4: Kim Waugh (Camaguey);

RACE 5: Nathan Doyle (Midnight Opal);

RACE 7: Kerry Parker (Ramble On);

RACE 9: Kris Lees (Pier Pressure);

*Story John Curtis, October 26, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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