SUNDAY: November 1, 2020: EVEN defeat can bring out the best in people!
Brad Widdup could so easily have been shattered after his first starter in a $7.5m race, gutsy mare Icebath, went under in a tight finish in only the second running of the Golden Eagle (1500m) for four-year-olds at Rosehill Gardens yesterday.
Victory would have been a tremendous boost for a Hawkesbury stable in its relative infancy, given he has been training for only three and a half years.
But Widdup took the narrow loss in his stride, and saw only positives as his class shone through.
“It was a huge day for the stable and our owners,” he enthused this morning.
“We took two horses to the races. Switched clinched a Saturday win in town earlier in the day and just to have a starter in such a rich race as the Golden Eagle with Icebath was a massive thrill. She ran out of her skin and earned $1.5m in prizemoney.
“That’s as good as winning a Group 1 any day of the week.
“And just as importantly Icebath collected $150,000 for our charity, the Mark Hughes Foundation. We were rapt.
“We had a really good week leading up to the Golden Eagle with Icebath. She went to the races in great order and ran accordingly.”
Though Widdup dared to hope as the horses reached the finishing line, he knew Icebath had been beaten on the post.
“I watched the race on the TV screen. It’s a vicious angle at Rosehill if you don’t know it and the winner Collette was so wide out I could see she had edged us out.”
Icebath, $51 at the beginning of the week, was the subject of sustained support and firmed to start a solid $6 second favorite behind unplaced Funstar ($4.80), punters warming to the Hawkesbury mare’s fitness given the heavy conditions, coupled with her dominant victory on a wet track at Royal Randwick the previous Saturday.
Widdup could see the irony in losing to Godolphin’s ATC Oaks winner Collette ($10), who also boasts outstanding wet track prowess.
Collette’s rider Koby Jennings is engaged to Widdup’s stable foreperson Nerissa Copp.
“Nerissa was helping me out with the horses, and naturally also kept a close eye on Koby in the race as well as Icebath,” Widdup said.
“I’ve got nothing whatsoever against Flit (Rachel King) or Criaderas’ (Keagan Latham) jockeys, but if any of the Godolphin horses were to beat us, I’m glad it was Koby who did so on Collette.”
Icebath has earned a break after an excellent campaign, and her trainer has set his sights on another feature 1500m race at Rosehill Gardens in autumn.
“The Group 1 Coolmore Classic is the logical target against her own sex,” he said. “Running second yesterday showed she can match it with the best, and that performance will help earn her starts in those big Group races.”
Whilst Widdup naturally was popular with Icebath’s owners, he was no less popular with a ladies’ syndicate (including his wife Milissa) which races Switched ($7), who followed her stablemate’s lead a week earlier by also winning her first Saturday race in town.
Milissa Widdup shares ownership in the four-year-old mare with Christine Cook, Ashleigh Payne (ATC owners’ experience manager), Jenny Moses (wife of trainer Kevin), Jennifer Laird and Barbara Bennett.
Whereas Icebath is headed for a rest, Switched may back up at the same track on Saturday chasing bigger riches in the $500,000 Group 2 Hot Danish Stakes (1400m) for fillies and mares.
“I’ll nominate Switched and have a good look at her over the next couple of days before making a final decision,” Widdup said.
“There’s probably not a lot for her in the autumn, so I will certainly give serious consideration to running her on Saturday.”
. Widdup has done a tremendous job with 2018 Inglis Classic yearling sale products Icebath and Switched, daughters of Group 1 winners Sacred Falls and All Too Hard respectively.
Icebath, a $100,000 buy at that sale, has now earned $1,714,640 (three wins and six placings – two at black type level as well as the Golden Eagle result – from 15 starts), whilst $110,000 purchase Switched has missed a place only twice, winning four and placing nine times from 15 starts for earnings of $273,330.
“That was the first sale at Inglis’ new Riverside complex at Warwick Farm, and the prices were probably 10 to 20 per cent higher because of the extra interest,” Widdup said.
“Both mares have certainly paid their way, and hopefully there’s more to come.”