Who said 13 was unlucky? Certainly not Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup, whose fledgling career continues to blossom.
Widdup produced a first starter, Pleasantries, on home turf on Thursday – and she didn’t let him down, providing him with his 13th winner.
With brother-in-law Christian Reith aboard, Pleasantries ($2.90) was confidently backed to make a successful debut in the Richmond Club Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1100m).
She began smartly and, after making the running, was strong to the line, comfortably repelling the challenge of $1.95 favorite Oxford Bella. Another Hawkesbury first starter, $21 chance Supreme Escape, finished third for trainer Mitch Newman.
Widdup is quickly establishing himself as a real force in the training ranks. He scored with his first starter (Junglized) at Canberra in late May, and his record now stands at 13 winners (including two in town) from 46 starters. Eight of those victories have come in this new season.
Widdup took over Dynamic Syndications’ four-year-old Foxwedge mare this preparation, and fitted her for today’s debut with two barrier trials.
She ran fourth in a 792m Warwick Farm trial on August 25, and then scored over 845m at Wyong on September 11.
“It’s fantastic that she has been able to win at her first start,” Widdup said afterwards. "She had trialled up well, and was in really good order for her debut. She was a bit keen, but Christian knew what he was on. It’s taken a while to get her to the races, and she has done a good job.”
Brenton Avdulla took the riding honours with wins in the first three races, on Darhad ($1.16), Ready For Love ($2.70) and Savapinski ($1.35).
Avdulla (with 14 wins), was runner-up to Tye Angland in Hawkesbury’s 2014-15 premiership, then reversed the roles, taking the title in 2015-16 with 23 wins.
Avdulla (11 wins) finished third to Angland (successful on the Clarry Conners-trained On The Spot today) and Josh Parr last season.
Co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott scored with hotpots Savapinski and History Repeats ($1.26), but another odds-on favourite Grand Finalist ($1.40) could finish only fifth to Angland’s mount On The Spot ($7) in the T & L Fowler Concreting Benchmark 69 Handicap (1300m).
The recent Hawkesbury winner struggled in the straight, and stewards later reported he was lame in the off foreleg when examined afterwards, and require a veterinary certificate before allowing him to race again.
Meanwhile, Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel has consistent Charlie Chap (Angland) engaged at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday in the Benchmark 74 Handicap (1300m).
Hawkesbury races again next Thursday (September 28) and also on Sunday, October 8.