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Conditions To Determine Widdup's Championships Prospects (Kembla Saturday)

By Greg Prichard

In-form Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup has the favourite, Ausbred Flirt, in the $150,000 Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship Qualifier over 1400 metres at Kembla Grange on Saturday, but track conditions will govern whether the mare runs.

Kembla remained a Heavy 9 when the track rating was updated on Friday morning, but the club remained hopeful of an upgrade between then and the meeting getting underway.

“We’ve had 77 mils of rain since last Saturday and there was a heavy dew this morning,” said Illawarra Turf Club racing manager Michael Craig. “It’s overcast here at the moment, but hopefully the sun appears and we’ll have another look at it this afternoon.

“We may get down to a Heavy 8 and with a bit of luck get into a Soft 7, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Trainer Brad Widdup (Pic: Bradley Photos).

Widdup has accepted with two horses for the race and Ausbred Flirt is the clear favourite with TAB Fixed Odds at $3.30, but the trainer is not a fan of the idea of running the five-year-old on a heavy track.

Ausbred Flirt has raced five times on soft tracks for one win and four unplaced finishes. Her four other career wins have all been on Good tracks and she has never raced on a heavy track.

Widdup’s other runner, Ruby Flyer, has good wet-track form. The five-year-old gelding has raced five times on soft tracks for two wins and two placings. It has not started on a heavy.

Ruby Flyer, currently a $14 chance, drew barrier 15 in a race that includes four emergencies and has already come in to 14 due to a scratching.

If there are no more scratchings and the three remaining emergencies come out it will start from 12 in a 16-horse field.

Widdup said he would wait until Saturday morning before making a decision on his runners.

“Ideally I’d like to take this chance to get Ausbred Flirt qualified for the final, but she doesn’t like wet tracks - especially when it starts getting into the higher range,” he said.

“It’s her Achilles’ heel, so we’ll wait and see what happens with the weather and the track.

“I’m not looking at running them both, against each other. If the track is good enough I’ll run Ausbred Flirt and keep Ruby Flyer for the qualifier at Wyong the following Saturday.

“Hopefully the track dries up a bit over the next 24 hours and I’ve got options. The series is a good fit for each of them and I’m keen to give them both a chance to get through to the final.”

Widdup trained another winner at the Newcastle meeting on Thursday, which took the stable to 15 wins from its last 43 starters going back to February 13 and a strike-rate of 34.88 per cent during that time.

He said a lot of work from the stable brains trust goes into the careful placement of its horses.

“We’re having a great run,” Widdup said.

“I think it’s just a good bunch of horses and we put a lot of time into it, we try to place them as well as we can and see how they go.

“That means you’ve got to be prepared to scratch if the conditions don’t suit them and wait for the right races instead.

"We’re switched on with how we manage our horses and that’s how you’ve got to be. You have to be prepared to go to Plan B if necessary.”

All the fields, form and replays for Saturday's Kembla Grange meeting

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