Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup clinched his fourth city success this season at Warwick Farm on Wednesday but there was both delight and frustration associated with the result.
Widdup started two mares – Ridicule ($4.60) and Invictum Domina ($26) – in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) – and came up trumps with the latter.
Former Victorian mare Invictum Domina (Christian Reith) turned in a splendid performance under 59kg to overcome the outside barrier and post both her fourth success and first for her new trainer, courageously holding off Moccasin Miss ($9.50) and $3 favorite Jen Rules. But Ridicule (apprentice Sam Weatherley) dropped out to finish last in the 13-horse field, more than nine lengths astern of her stablemate.
Whilst obviously disappointed with Ridicule’s lacklustre performance, Widdup expressed surprise that there had been such a huge price difference between his two mares. Invictum Domina, whose first three wins (including two at Sandown) were in Victoria, is one of five horses given to Widdup by Golden Slipper winning syndicators Darby Racing.
“Her trials were good and I put blinkers on her for her resumption at Warwick Farm (a 1000m Benchmark 75 Handicap on August 22 when ridden by apprentice Brock Ryan) and was confident she would run well,” Widdup said. “But she was slowly away and under the circumstances did a good job to finish fourth.”
“Invictum Domina galloped strongly at Hawkesbury on Saturday morning, and she was back to a Benchmark 70 and the extra 100m was in her favour. Christian got her out of the barrier smartly today and she rolled along sharing the lead and then fought on really well.”
Widdup’s success with the I Am Invincible five-year-old followed on from his August metropolitan triumphs with Sandbar (11th), Za Zi Ba (25th) and Junglized (29th), but the elation of the 60th win of his training career was tempered by Ridicule’s flop.
“She is a thorn in my side; her racing career is at the crossroads,” he said.
Weatherley subsequently told stewards that Ridicule had started to hang in when racing behind Ellie’s Encore and it got worse approaching the home turn. Concerned with her action after straightening, he began to ease her out of the race from the 200m. Widdup advised stewards there had been no adverse issues with Ridicule leading up to the race, and that he was concerned with the manner in which she weakened. A post-race vet examination revealed Ridicule to be mildly lame (1 out of 5) in the off foreleg.
Stewards deemed the mare’s performance unacceptable and ruled she must barrier trial satisfactorily and a veterinary certificate be produced before she is allowed to race again.
Widdup is seeking a Group 1 breakthrough with Sandbar (Corey Brown) in Saturday’s $1m Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens. He has decided to put blinkers on the three-year-old, who wasn’t suited by the heavy conditions when fifth to Lean Mean Machine in The Run To The Rose (1200m) at the same track on September 8.