By Ray Hickson
‘Slow to begin. Near 1100m eased when awkwardly placed at the heels of another horse. Near 1000m severely bumped, became unbalanced and lost ground. Approaching 800m checked when placed in restricted room. Sustained puncture wound to off side knee.’
So reads the stewards report following the horror show, for horse and punter, that was Chauffeur’s first-up run at Doomben in May where he finished 8.7 lengths last as a $3.70 chance in a race that was supposed to be a nice kick off point.
Trainer Brad Widdup has done his best to forget that race and focus on returning the $1.6m colt to his best form in the Sydney’s West App Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
He said Chauffeur didn’t get a chance to compete at Doomben and describes it as a non-event.
“Josh (Parr) just sat up on him after (the interference) and he just went around,’’ he said.
“I wouldn’t look into that run at all, you very rarely see it, unfortunately we got it and we have to move on.’’
Out of that race jockey Brad Stewart was suspended for a month for reckless riding causing severe interference to Chauffeur.
Keep an eye out the back to see Chauffeur (red colours) copping interference at Doomben on May 19
Since then the colt has had a confidence boosting seven length trial win at Wyong.
“We took him back to the trials and he trialled probably better than I wanted but it’s not a bad thing in the end,’’ he said.
“He came through it well and it seemed to spark him up. Trials don’t mean everything, there’s no guarantee but it was a positive thing.’’
Widdup is happy with how the colt has recovered in the six weeks since the Doomben race though he is faced with a soft to heavy track, conditions that he hasn’t relished in the past.
In fairness, those runs were in the Golden Slipper and Sires’ Produce as a two-year-old.
“He’s very fit, I don’t think I could have him any fitter,’’ he said.
“It’s going to come down to if he handles the track.’’
Chauffeur opened favourite with TAB for Saturday’s race and was a $4.80 chance on Friday.
Widdup is sending stakes placed filly Witherspoon to Newcastle on Saturday for her first start outside Group or Listed company in the Nelson Bay Bowlo Plate (900m).
Witherspoon hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Denise’s Joy at Scone on May 12 but, like Chauffeur, won a trial at Wyong on June 15.
“I probably rushed her for that first-up run at Scone and things didn’t go right,’’ he said.
“She seems to have picked up and I’m sure she will be competitive.’’
Meanwhile, talented colt Sandbar is about three weeks off his first trial on the road to the Group 1 Golden Rose in September.
Sandbar, eighth in he Golden Slipper, is a $15 chance in TAB’s Golden Rose market behind the unbeaten The Autumn Sun ($6).