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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: February 12, 2023: A winner at Canterbury on Friday night, another at Newcastle yesterday, and a very pleasing return by star mare Icebath.

It all added up to an excellent weekend for leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup.

Victories by Zouson Boy at Canterbury and Ausbred Rising Sun at Newcastle lifted Widdup to 40 winners for the season as he looks to better last season’s benchmark of 63.

And he couldn’t hide his delight at his maiden Group 1 winner Icebath’s late closing fourth to Cox Plate winner Anamoe in yesterday’s $250,000 Group 2 wfa Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.

“She usually races well first-up, but ran particularly well and it was good to see,” Widdup said today.

“Icebath was ridden more positively, and was a bit unlucky not to have finished third (RacingNSW stewards reported she and Mo’Unga raced tight from the 250m to the 50m).

“Importantly, she appears to have come through the race in good order.”

Icebath was ridden for the first time by Brett Prebble, who has formed a good association with Widdup since relocating to Sydney, and was beaten only one and a quarter lengths.

The mare’s next run may be against her own sex in the $250,000 Group 2 Guy Walter Proven Thoroughbreds Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday week.

“I’m not keen to push her to the ‘mile’ second up in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes the same day,” Widdup said.

“This will most likely be her last racing preparation, and after the Sydney autumn I would like to take her to Brisbane for a couple of races at the winter carnival.”

Icebath has contested the last two runnings of the Guy Walter (conducted at set weights plus penalties), finishing third to Krone two years ago and fourth to Forbidden Love last year.

She was second-up on both occasions, as will be the case again should her trainer go that way.

Icebath ran sixth to Think It Over when resuming in last year’s Apollo (the last 600m was run in 35.39 secs), and yesterday’s renewal resulted in a quicker 33.61s for the last 600m, emphasising the merit of her performance.

The addition of blinkers certainly contributed to both Zouson Boy and Ausbred Rising Sun winning their respective races.

Beautifully rated out in front by Prebble, Zouson Boy ($10) never gave his rivals a chance in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1900m) at Canterbury.

An $80,000 yearling purchase, the Zoustar three-year-old had the race in his keeping when a long leader before the home turn and scored by nearly two lengths from Yukon ($5) and Above and Beyond ($10).

Zouson Boy dropped 3.5kg for the rise in class on his previous 1600m third in a Benchmark 64 Handicap at Warwick Farm on January 26, and notched his third success (along with four placings) at his 13th start.

“When he was able to go forward and be left alone in front, his rivals were always going to be hard pressed to catch him,” Widdup said.

Ausbred Rising Sun ($1.35 favorite) made it two wins from only three starts when too good for Zambrero ($26) and Don Quixote ($5.50) in the Class 1/Maiden Plate (1850m) at Newcastle.

The Maurice three-year-old indicated potential when he powered home on debut to win a 1350m Provincial Maiden Plate on the Beaumont track in mid-December before going to town and finishing second in the same race Zouson Boy ran third at Warwick Farm on Australia Day.

“Ausbred Rising Sun is going the right way, but is still doing a few things wrong,” Widdup said.

“He has been nominated for the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 4 but won’t be running.

“If we get to the Australian Derby ($2m 2400m Group 1) at Randwick on April 1, it will be through the back door by contesting some of the easier lead-ups to give him more experience.”

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