By Gary Harley
Talented Hawkesbury filly Wonderbabe, a $400,000 buy at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, is expected to open her winning account in the 900 metre three-year-old Maiden Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.
Trained by the astute Brad Widdup and raced by The Everest slot holder Damian Flower, Wonderbabe has only had one start at Warwick Farm in August. She was slow away but quickly mustered enough speed to settle in second place until half way down the straight, where she tired to finish fifth.
Widdup immediately sent the filly for a spell and she appeared in a recent Hawkesbury barrier trial which she won unextended. Grant Buckley will ride Wonderbabe and she will start from barrier 4.
Widdup was confident when discussing his filly’s prospects but believed she is a preparation away from realising her potential.
“Wonderbabe is a smart filly and is beautifully placed on Saturday. She will win this prep and hopefully it will be on Saturday. She is not a flyer and can be slow away, however, this filly has good speed and won’t be far from the leaders.
"Wonderbabe has been immature but I was very happy with her recent trial win. The filly is probably a preparation away from where I want her to be. I am sending her to Newcastle first-up as it is a great track to give her a good experience and more education,” Widdup said.
Flower will be trackside on Saturday: “I will be up there, and I really like this filly. I paid $400,000 for her and she is a half-sister to a stakes winner Miss Wonderland. I raced Wonderbabe’s sire Snitzel and I have a real soft spot for his progeny,” Flower said on Friday.
Widdup also has Celosia running at Newcastle in the 1400 metre Fillies and Mares Maiden. The trainer believes she will be competitive in her first start with blinkers.
The Newcastle meeting kicks off with a quality Class 2 900 metre Handicap event which features the clash of two of the state’s most successful stables in Kris Lees and Peter and Paul Snowden.
Lees’s Designer Maid is a very fast filly which led all the way over this trip recently. The Snowden’s three-year-old Invincible Lad is first-up after winning two ‘on the trot’ over short courses at Gosford and Kembla.
John Singleton’s staying bred mare Wild About Her steps up to the 1850 metres in the Benchmark 64 Handicap. The four-year-old is a daughter of Kentucky Derby Winner Big Brown and Singleton’s Oaks winner Once Were Wild. This mare finished strongly to win over 1600m at Gosford two weeks ago.
Nearby Singleton sprinter Art D‘Amour can break through for a well-deserved win in a classy Newcastle Nobbys Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m). The Aleacia Bennett-trained gelding has been placed without winning in four of his past six starts this preparation. He was nailed on the line at Gosford last start.
Grant Buckley, who is back home from visiting his close friend Tye Angland in a Hong Kong hospital, has an attractive book of rides. His mounts include Wild About Her (race 4), Wonderbabe (race 5), Sazavee (race 6), Art D’Amour (race 7) and Oakfield Captain (race 8). Each has winning prospects.