SUNDAY: October 25, 2020: HAVING a shot at a $7.5m race is too good an opportunity to pass up, says Brad Widdup.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer had encouraging news today in the aftermath of his talented mare Icebath’s impressive city breakthrough at Royal Randwick yesterday as he pondered a start in Saturday’s rich Golden Eagle (1500m) for four-year-olds at Rosehill Gardens.
It appears the lucrative stake will attract a capacity field of 18 – and Widdup is hoping Icebath will be one of them.
“Icebath pulled up the best she has ever done after a race,” he said this afternoon.
“She is a very tough mare and provided she makes the field, it would be pretty hard not to give her the chance to run.
“Icebath is already stakes placed, and races such as this ($7.5m) don’t come along too often.”
Icebath ($2.60 favorite) finally put to bed an unlucky run of city performances – which included four placings (one a Listed second and another a Group 3 third) – when she bolted away with a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) at Randwick yesterday.
With 3kg claimer Tom Sherry aboard, the daughter of ill-fated dual Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls relished both the heavy track and 1600m to trounce her opposition, scoring by four lengths.
“I’m not sure if it was the heavy track or going to the extra distance, but I’ve been waiting to get her back out to 1600m,” Widdup said.
“Icebath was beaten less than a length as a three-year-old when sixth to Asiago in the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic at that distance in March.
“She was then unlucky in both the Listed 1400m South Pacific Classic (second to Indy Car) at Randwick during The Championships and the Group 3 1400m Hawkesbury Guineas (third to Dawn Passage) at Rosehill.”
Widdup was confident Icebath would be hard to beat yesterday, especially with Sherry’s claim lessening her weight to 54.5kg, following her fifth (at set weights plus penalties) behind Golden Eagle fancies Flit, Alligator Blood and Dawn Passage in the Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick on October 10.
The mare was coming back in distance that day, and was beaten only two lengths.
If Icebath makes the Golden Eagle field, Widdup will most likely have to find a replacement senior rider as apprentices cannot claim.
Whilst the likelihood of a wet track on Saturday won’t worry Widdup’s mare in the least, it’s a different situation altogether with stablemate Switched, a recent Warwick Farm midweek winner.
“Switched has been nominated for a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill, but unlike Icebath, she isn’t at home on wet ground,” Widdup said.
. Icebath’s city breakthrough coincided with the outstanding debut of her three-year-old younger brother Courier Wonder at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin racetrack yesterday.
Courier Wonder, a $150,000 buy at last year’s Karaka (NZ) Book 1 yearling sale, is prepared by 11-times premiership winner John Size and scored by nearly six lengths.