By Ray Hickson
Trainer Brad Widdup isn’t letting a tricky barrier dull his confidence in the ability of Gimcrack Stakes favourite Witherspoon.
At the same time, barrier 16 has forced Widdup to be a little conservative when it comes to expectations for the $500,000 youngster at Randwick on Saturday.
Witherspoon opened the $3.60 favourite with TAB for the Listed $150,000 Gimcrack Stakes (1000m) on the back of an easy win at the Canterbury official two-year-old trials on September 18.
“On natural ability she’s very smart but there’s been plenty of morning superstars that don’t come to race day,’’ Widdup said.
“I don’t think that of her at all but we’ll wait until we get under race pressure.''
Of course with 16 inexperienced two-year-olds charging around the Randwick 1000m luck in running could trump ability.
That's why Widdup isn't too worried about drawing the 'car park'.
“We could dodge a bit of traffic (from the barrier) but I don’t want to be charging out because I think there will be enough speed,'' he said.
“If we can get in behind the speed it would suit her better.’’
Witherspoon, named of course after the Academy Award winning actress, is one of 13 new season two-year-olds in Widdup’s Hawkesbury stable.
It came as no surprise to him that the Exceed And Excel filly is the first to the races and as smart as her trial win was he’s naturally expecting her to only improve with experience.
“From day one she’s always been a fleet footed little filly and very professional,’’ he said.
— Australian Turf Club (@atc_races) September 18, 2017
“This filly is the one that did everything right, she’s come home and continued to do well.
“One thing I did like about the trial is she sat off the leader and was quite relaxed, when Christian (Reith) gave a little bit she went.
“She probably got lost the last little bit but he gave a couple of smacks to keep her mind on the job.’’
The Gimcrack will be an early season cameo for Witherspoon as Widdup aims her at the Magic Millions in January.
He said she’ll only have a short time out after Saturday's debut and be given one or two runs leading into the first major two-year-old race of 2018.