Hawkesbury Race Club (HRC) held their first official race day with open access to the public this past Sunday, July 12 as patrons were welcomed back for a big day of on-course action.
With a good crowd turnout the day was capped off with two locally trained horses each snagging wins on the heavy track.
Tara and Philippe Vigouroux won in the days opening event, the (Your Business Here) F&M Maiden Handicap (1300m) with $41 outsider Fire Dragon just edging out a tight victory.
Co-trainer Tara Vigouroux said the filly's victory was a nice surprise, as they would have been happy to see her running on well with a view to getting up over a longer distance.
With 12 wins so far (following a breakout 15 last year), Team Vigouroux is second only to Brad Widdup in winners trained by Hawkesbury trainers this season, in an overall total of 138.
Widdup made it 40 wins for the season on Sunday as debutante Nags To Riches, beat the more fancied Windswept and the favourite Tolerate in the PKB Autoclave Services 2&3YO Maiden Handicap (1000m).
"She had been trialing in good style and I expected her to race well first-up," said Widdup.
A $135,000 yearling purchase at the Gold Coast last year, Nags To Riches was positively ridden by Andrew Adkins. Once she hit the front, Nags to Riches wasn't going to surrender and comfortably fended off her two main rivals.
"Now that she has shown above average ability, I'll probably give her one more run and then a break," said Widdup.
HRC saw a really great turnout from the community who once again demonstrated their unwavering support for the club, even despite the downpour of rain in the mid-afternoon which quickly turned to a beautiful sunset over the Blue Mountains, a view the club has become known for.
The Ted McCabe Function Room was at capacity of 170, catering to social distancing, the new normal of four square meters between groups in function rooms.
Hawkesbury Race Club's new CEO Ken Rutherford thought it was great that so many people came out for the meet.
"It was one of the bigger days at the club in terms of numbers. I think people wanted to get out and about after the lockdown," he said.
"It was really great to see such good support from the community.
"Unfortunately we got some rain around 3pm which I think put an end to a few people's day, especially those on the front lawn."
Rain leading up to the day created a heavy track for the eight-race meeting.
"It's winter. It's difficult in July to get a track that will somehow not be effected by the weather," said Rutherford.
"But we have a good track here at Hawkesbury and it has a good name in the racing community."
It has been another excellent season for Widdup, who is set to win the Hawkesbury trainers premiership after notching the 137th winner of his brief career on Sunday.
"It's been a difficult season, but we've continued to work hard and the winners have been coming," Widdup said. "With only a couple of weeks left this season, I'll be doing my best to at least equal or better last year's number."
Ken Rutherford said Widdup has done a great job this season and applauded his preparation for the upcoming Spring season.
"He has really nice facilities, a great team and nice horses," he said. "He really deserves this one (the premiership).
"Brad has some really exciting, young horses who are ready for spring. Widdup is a name people are going to want to remember over the next few months."
Rachel King will celebrate another birthday at season's end - and with the gifted English woman is poised to become the first female to win the provincial club's Hawkesbury jockeys' premiership.
Another winner at the second last meeting of the 2019-20 racing year (that ends July 31) took her to 12 wins, three ahead of Jason Collett, who also rode a winner.
There is only one Hawkesbury meeting left on July 30 and Collett, would need to produce a treble and for King not to ride a winner to even share premiership honours.
But, as with King, the trainers' premiership looks to be in the safe hands of Randwick co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, who clinched a double at Hawkesbury on Sunday propelling the duo to 16 wins, three ahead of closest rival Gerald Ryan.
Robbie Dolan (five wins) is one ahead of "stablemate" Tom Sherry in the apprentices' premiership.