Widgee Turf

Widgee Turf (Image: Racing Photos)

Widgee ready for Aurie's return

Widgee Turf is forward enough to win first-up in Saturday's Group 3 Aurie's Star Handicap (1200m) despite having not raced since December, according to trainer Patrick Payne.

The winner of $1.25 million in stakes has been nominated on a number of occasions in the past few weeks, but Payne said he's been waiting for conditions to suit to pull the trigger on his popular veteran.

"It's no secret he likes getting his toe in the ground, so we've just been waiting for a bit more give in the ground and with the rain forecast this week he'll get that at Flemington," Payne said.

"He's definitely forward, he's been up for a while, so it wouldn't shock me if he ran a race, he's forward enough to be in with a chance for sure.

"He's better suited 1400-1600m so I'm not expecting we'll see his best first-up over 1200m though particularly down the straight."

The seven-year-old has raced 36 times for 11 wins and 14 placings after being purchased for just $4500 as a weanling in 2014.

Usually a consistent galloper, he failed to record a victory in six starts across last spring and early summer, on the back of an unplaced run in June's G1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm.

Payne said he's given the son of Turffontein a sizeable spell to freshen up and return to the Widgee Turf of old.

"He's really well in himself and I'm expecting him to run a lot better than he did last preparation, he was a bit flat after coming back from Queensland but after a good break he feels better than ever," he said.

The leading trainer is excited to get the fan favourite back to the races and depending how he goes on Saturday says we can expect to see him a few more times over the next few months as the stable tries to strike while the tracks still have a bit of give in the late winter and early spring.