THURSDAY: January 20, 2022: ICEBATH is bang on track to begin her autumn campaign at Royal Randwick in just over three weeks’ time.

The inaugural $2m The Invitation winner trialled brilliantly at Warwick Farm this morning when second to the classy three-year-old Home Affairs, a sizzling winner against his own age of the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in late October.

Icebath was one of the first to begin in the 800m Group and Listed heat on the inside grass track, kept in touch when fifth to the home turn, then ran home with purpose and without being put under pressure.

She was beaten three-quarters of a length by Home Affairs, who quickly led and clocked 49.06 seconds, running the last 600m in 34.06s.

Already the earner of $3.74m prizemoney, Icebath had a short break after a photo-finish second to Superstorm in the Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on October 30; the second time she has been beaten by a whisker in a Group 1.

She was also pipped by Colette in the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) for four-year-olds at Rosehill Gardens in October, 2020.

“Very happy with how Icebath trialled, and so was her rider Kerrin McEvoy,” Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup said this evening.

“She has pulled up well.”

Brad plans to trial Icebath again at Rosehill Gardens on January 31 in another Group and Listed heat before she kicks off a new campaign, striving to add that overdue Group 1 success to her already impressive record.

The $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick will be the classy mare’s return race – and her first test at weight-for-age.

“It’s not going to get any easier,” Brad said. “She will be taking on horses such as the Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant, who looked magnificent when she went out for the same trial today, in the Apollo.

“But all the indications are that our mare has come back in great order.”

Other Group 1 winners who ran in today’s trial were Hungry Heart (4th) and Think It Over (7th).

Whilst Brad is preparing Icebath for another crack at the $3m Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 2 (she was nudged out last year by Cascadian), and perhaps her first try at 2000m a week later there in the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes, she also holds an entry for the $5m All-Star Mile at Flemington on March 19.

Seventy-eight horses (including Verry Elleegant) have been nominated. The 15-strong field will be determined by the 10 most popular horses voted by the public along with five wildcards to be chosen.

Voting opens on Monday and closes on February 13.