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  • John Curtis


THURSDAY: August 5, 2021: BRAD Widdup has been forced to change plans with his star mare Icebath, along with stablemates Adelong and Vulpine, - and Hawkesbury Race Club came on board.

Widdup had intended to trial all three mares at Royal Randwick tomorrow (the session was originally scheduled for Monday), but was unable to do so because of COVID restrictions.

Instead, Icebath, Adelong and Vulpine will contest 800m jumpouts on the Hawkesbury course proper on Monday morning (the club will begin the new season with a race meeting on Tuesday).

“James Cummings also has nine horses to contest the jumpouts, and my three mares will run in separate heats,” Widdup said this evening.

“Kerrin McEvoy will be here to ride Icebath in her jumpout.”

Coincidentally, two of Cummings’ horses to line up on Monday are Colette and Cascadian, who narrowly edged out Icebath in the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens and Doncaster Mile at Randwick respectively last season.

Widdup has been Hawkesbury’s leading trainer for the past four seasons, and isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet.

Following 36 winners in the just completed 2020-21 season and a record prizemoney haul of $3.7m, he has kicked off the new season in style with two winners in the last two days.

After Nags To Riches had staged a last to first winning burst on the Kensington track yesterday, recent stable arrival Cobia also was successful at Kembla Grange today.

The Hinchinbrook four-year-old, having only his second start for Widdup, would have been something beaten had he not won.

The RacingNSW stewards’ report couldn’t have summed it up better. “Cobia from the 400m was held up and unable to improve until after the 200m,” it read.

When rider Tim Clark was finally able to secure clear running, Cobia ($3.70 favorite) hit the line strongly to defeat Akihiro ($6.50) and $2.60 favorite Latino Blend, who had been slowly away.

Cobia is raced by a syndicate headed by Bell River Thoroughbreds, now based at Glen William in the local government area of Dungog.

The gelding’s first win – and an easy one at that – was in a 1280m Maiden Plate at Muswellbrook last November when prepared by his original trainer David Pfieffer, now serving a stint on the sideline.

“That was a pretty strong race at Kembla today, so I feel the form will work out pretty well,” Widdup said.

“On the strength of that, Cobia might be up to a midweek event in town.”

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