Both Brad Widdup and Richard Freedman, two horsemen with the greatest strike rate of winners to runners in New South Wales, have impressive backgrounds in the game coming from widely diverse paths, but it hasn’t stopped the two men from quickly accumulating winners this season.
The Hawkesbury-based Widdup, a former foreman for the powerful Godolphin stable who only saddled his first runner in his own right in May, has prepared a remarkable 11 winners from 36 starters this season, including three over the weekend at Canberra and Kembla Grange, following the debut win of Pleasantries at Hawkesbury, last Thursday.
Three of the four winners this past week were ridden by Widdup’s brother-in-law Christian Reith, who wore the well-known red and white silks of Dynamic Syndications, with I Am Special and Overreactive saluting at short-odds to the delight of Canberra’s punters.
Not to be outdone, Freedman, managing his wide-ranging media racing and commercial commitments, returned to the training ranks earlier this year at Hawkesbury, before recently moving to his present Rosehill Gardens base.
After two decades as part of the all conquering ‘FBI’ with brothers, Lee and Anthony, his consistently improving stayer Auvray survived a protest to win the G3 $150,000 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m), providing the first stakes-winner since his departure in 1995.
“I’ve trained stakes winners before, but this one was more special," Freedman enthused, referring to when he took over the reins from brother Lee, whilst Lee was suspended for part of that year.
Despite a small field of five in the traditional lead-up race to the Group 1 $750,000 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on Epsom Day, the trifecta engaged in a superb contest for the length of the straight with tough stayers Admiral Jello and Broadside, who had Auvray’s measure in last Friday’s G3 Newcastle Cup (2300m), fighting out a daring finish.