Widdup honing numbers for busy Randwick card

Brad Widdup has resisted the temptation to take Ruby Flyer and Short Shorts to Queensland, preferring to focus on goals closer to home.

Trainer : BRAD WIDDUP.
Trainer : BRAD WIDDUP. Picture: Martin King / Sportpix

Trainer Brad Widdup is set to have a strong hand at Randwick, but a combination of bumper entries and the prospect of a heavily rain-affected track have prompted him to keep his options open with several of his team.

With last Saturday's Rosehill meeting called off halfway through the program due to visibility and track concerns, the Australian Turf Club received a whopping 309 nominations for this weekend's extended 11-event card, 216 of those paid up to race.

Compounding matters, Randwick is rated in the heavy range and with showers forecast for the remainder of the week, conditions are unlikely to improve.

The uncertainty prompted many trainers to hedge their bets, including Widdup, who either dual nominated or accepted with three of his five Randwick hopefuls at other venues.

However, with Ruby Flyer gaining a start in Saturday's Racing And Sports Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, Widdup has made an early call to scratch him from a Listed assignment in Brisbane to stay closer to home.

The gelding has managed to win or place in three of his four runs for the stable, quickly endearing himself with his consistency and giving Widdup the confidence to declare he will again perform well.

"I'd love to have twenty-five of him," Widdup said.

"He has been a great pick up and he is going terrific."

Handy mare Short Shorts drops back to benchmark grade for the Petaluma Handicap (1300m) having been competitive in Group company at her past two starts where she finished a narrow second in the Hawkesbury Crown (1300m) and a solid fifth in the Dark Jewel Classic (1400m) at Scone.

Widdup contemplated taking her to Queensland for another stakes opportunity, but ultimately decided to try to bank a Saturday-grade win instead.

"I'd like to chase a bit of black-type with her, but I think she is probably a rung below the Dane Ripper (Stakes) and Tatt's Tiara," Widdup said.

"She's a nice mare and I don't want to throw her in the deep end too soon.

"I'd rather see if we can pick up another Saturday race in Sydney and go from there."

Connections of stablemate Fire Lane will need to play a waiting game, with that mare a second emergency for the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m).

She has been paid up for 1000m sprint on the Randwick undercard, while also holding an entry for the public holiday meeting at Canterbury on Monday.

Three-year-olds Physicist and Be Real are set to clash in the 50 Year and Life Membership Handicap (2000m), the latter earning a call up to weekend company after winning two of her past three starts on the provincial circuit.

Physicist was a winner in midweek grade two starts back and Widdup felt his effort was better than it appeared last time out when unplaced at Randwick.

"I didn't want him going to the fence (last start) but he ended up there and just got locked away," he said.

"They walked in the race so his run is better than it looks on paper and out to 2000 metres, I'd hope that suits him.

"He's progressive and he is going to be a nice horse for us with time."