Winter On Widdup’s Mind As Owen Eyes Hat-Trick

Trainer Brad Widdup is confident Owen County has a decent future as a stayer but he won’t be throwing the gelding in the deep end regardless of his performance at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

The four-year-old has his confidence up with successive Benchmark 64 wins at Gosford and Hawkesbury and has his sights set on a hat-trick in the Ghaiyyath First Yearlings Handicap (2110m).

While Owen County does hold a nomination for the Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), where he was allocated 50kg, Widdup is looking to hit the pause button in favour of easier targets post-autumn.

Trainer Brad Widdup (Pic: Bradley Photos)

“I’ll probably give him this run and freshen him up for the winter, I don’t want to go too much deeper now it’s carnival time,’’ Widdup said.

“We’ve given him a nice slow preparation to get him out to these distances and, unfortunately, we’ve run out of time with the carnival being here.

“There should be more opportunities during the winter. He likes a bit of cut of the ground and there’ll be more suitable races.”

Owen County joined Widdup from John Sargent late last year and when he scored at Gosford, his first win since May 2022, it was his first attempt at 2000m and beyond since he finished midfield in Sharp ‘N’ Smart’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes.

“To be fair to Sarge he always wanted to get him there but he had a setback,’’ Widdup said.

“He was always destined for this and I think he’s a horse that’ll run 2400m on his ear.”

The margin in Owen County’s Hawkesbury win was only narrow but he circled the field from last and was able to hold off King Kikau to score.

Widdup said the Dundeel gelding is still a work in progress but feels he’s returning to city company at the right time with his tail in the air and can only expect him to hold his form.

Kerrin McEvoy rides the horse again on Wednesday, he was $5.50 with TAB on Tuesday, and he’ll drop 1.5kg on his last start win.

“His manners are getting better, he doesn’t help himself a little bit as he can race a little keen,’’ he said.

“When he switches off and finds the right spot he seems to finish off well.

“He’s very fit, there’s no worries there. He’s drawn well so hopefully he can get a soft run.”

Meanwhile, Widdup said he’ll likely send unbeaten filly Confess Our Dreams around in Saturday’s Listed Fireball Stakes (1100m) at Randwick instead of her Warwick Farm engagement.

– Racing NSW

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