TUESDAY: March 29, 2022: LEADING Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup was philosophical this evening about his star mare Icebath’s Doncaster Mile prospects.
“I lost a jockey and got a good barrier,” Brad said, referring to Kerrin McEvoy pulling the pin on riding at Royal Randwick on Saturday on Day 1 of The Championships following a suspension at Newcastle yesterday, before seeing Icebath draw barrier nine in the capacity field of 20 (plus four emergencies) for the $3m Group 1 feature.
McEvoy was outed by RacingNSW stewards following his winning ride on Promise Of Success in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes, and was to have started his suspension on Saturday.
However, he has taken a booking for yesterday’s impressive Tancred Stakes winner Duais in the $2m Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday week – and was successful in altering the term of his suspension, which will now start on Thursday.
McEvoy advised Brad of his situation, and the trainer has booked former WA jockey Fred Kersley (now based in Melbourne) to come to Sydney for the Doncaster ride.
“Fred rode Icebath for the first time in the All-Star Mile at Flemington on March 19, and has a connection with some of the mare’s WA owners,” Brad explained.
“Icebath needed this morning’s gallop over 1200m on the Polytrack.
“At least we have drawn a decent barrier this time.”
Icebath drew the outside barrier (12) when she beat her own sex in the inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick on October 23 last before again drawing the outside (14) when beaten a whisker in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a week later.
She again drew the outside at her first two starts this campaign before drawing barrier nine in a field of 14 when ninth (after covering ground) to Zaaki in the $5m All-Star Mile.
Whilst Brad believes Icebath will again be very competitive in the Doncaster (she rises only 1kg from last year’s photo-finish second and meets Cascadian 2kg better), he is also looking forward to backing her up a week later in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes against her own sex over the Doncaster course.
“It’s not that she doesn’t do enough work, but her form shows she hits her peak at the fifth run of her preparation,” he said.
Icebath’s stablemate Devil Racer, a recent impressive Canterbury winner, will be an acceptor for Saturday’s Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m).
However, Youthfull (Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes, 2000m) and Short Shorts (Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes, 1200m) will be absentees from the opening day of The Championships.
However, both are likely to line up a week later; Youthfull in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) and recent Hawkesbury winner Short Shorts in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m).
Icebath was unluckily beaten when runner-up to Indy Car in the South Pacific Classic two years ago.