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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


FRIDAY: September 16, 2022: TOMMY Berry will be a new rider for Icebath in her final Epsom Handicap lead-up at Royal Randwick tomorrow.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup was able to secure Berry’s services when second favorite Zaaki was withdrawn this afternoon from the $1m Group 1 wfa George Main Stakes (1600m).

Widdup had held off finalising a jockey for his classy mare with the uncertainty over Zaaki taking his place in the field.

Widdup also accepted with Icebath for today’s Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m) at Newcastle, but decided against running her when the fillies and mares’ feature was put on as the last race on the program.

“She would have been late getting back to her Hawkesbury stable, and going to Randwick tomorrow for the 3.15pm race is a better option for her with a big spring campaign still ahead,” Widdup explained this evening.

“My job is to do the best for Icebath and her owners.”

Regular rider Kerrin McEvoy was booked for Icebath at Newcastle, but had taken the mount on Hinged in the George Main.

“This will be Icebath’s final run going into the Epsom Handicap at Randwick in a fortnight,” Widdup said.

“The mare is in really great order.”

Icebath, who was a strong-finishing second to Zaaki in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 3, is currently an $11 joint third favorite for the $1.5m Epsom (1600m), where she has 53.5kg – 3.5kg less than what she will carry tomorrow under the weight-for-age conditions.

Hawkesbury will have great interest in the George Main with Edward Cummings’ triple Group 1 winner Duais (Josh Parr) having her second start this campaign before she heads back south for big targets.

Duais is $7 favorite for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15, and $13 third favorite for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1.

Cummings is eyeing the $1m Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), to be run at set weights and penalties, at Flemington on the same day as the Epsom, as his mare’s next run after the George Main.

. Randwick trainer Michael Freedman’s second stable at Hawkesbury provided the opening winner at today’s Newcastle Cup meeting when lightly-raced Communist spaced his rivals in the Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m).

The Russian Revolution three-year-old was a $1.80 favorite against four rivals and made short work of them.

Communist romped home by nearly three and half lengths, lifting his record to three wins from only five starts.

A $160,000 purchase at last year’s Inglis classic yearling sale, Communist is the second foal of the Northern Meteor mare Cappadocia, whose two wins were both in South Australia.

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