A stronger and more mature Widgee Turf is preparing to begin his latest campaign at Caulfield having shown promise in his six starts so far.
The Patrick Payne-trained three-year-old has won twice, including one at Flemington, along with three runner-up finishes in town.
Widgee Turf resumes in Saturday’s Next Payments Handicap (1200m) and has won a barrier trial at Cranbourne in the lead-up.
“He was always quite an immature horse, physically and in his galloping as well, but this time around he’s strengthened up a bit and structurally he’s a lot stonger as well,” Payne said.
“Whether he’s a better horse now than what he was remains to be seen, but you’d like to think he’s improved a small margin.”
Payne is planning a winter campaign for Widgee Turf to try to progress through the grades and utilise his eligibility for Super VOBIS bonuses, but said if he puts his hand up for better races than that then he would get his chance.
Widgee Turf is at $6 with Luxbet.com.au behind joint-favourites Artie Dee Two and Wise Hero at $5.
“I think he’ll run really well but a lot of horses have got to be respected in that race,” Payne said.
“Wise Hero is a nice horse and there’s a few others in there that go fairly well.
“I think if he can run in the first four he’s done a good job and I’d like to think he’s got a couple of races in him this preparation.”
Widgee Turf ran on from back in the field but finished second at his final three starts in town last campaign.
Payne said because Widgee Turf was structurally stronger, he has been able to give him more work.
“We had to babysit his shins a little bit last time and could never be that tough on him. So he was always going to the races a little bit new,” he said.
“This time around we’ve been able to put more work into him.
“In his first-up run he’ll probably be ridden quietly but in his other races he might be able to be ridden in a bit further forward position because he’s a bit fitter and stronger now.
“So hopefully he can make more of his own luck than be dictated to by the others like he was in his last preparation.”