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  • John Curtis


WEDNESDAY: October 27 2021: THE Invitation winner Icebath will take on the “boys” at Flemington on Saturday as Brad Widdup chases a Group 1 breakthrough.

Hawkesbury’s leading trainer has opted to run his classy mare in the $2m Kennedy Cantala (1600m) rather than against her own sex in another Group 1 feature, the $1m Empire Rose Stakes over the same distance.

But the difference in prizemoney was not the reason for the decision.

“Icebath isn’t likely to get another chance to win a Group 1 handicap with the weight (53.5kg) she has on Saturday,” Widdup said this afternoon.

“She travelled to Melbourne fine, but was a bit naughty at the track this morning – but that’s her.

“She is in great order and ready to go on Saturday.”

For the second week in a row, Icebath has drawn the outside barrier, coming up with 16 for the Cantala.

She drew 15 (and came into 12 when the three reserves didn’t get a start) before winning last Saturday’s inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Royal Randwick.

As Icebath is backing up for the second consecutive weekend – something she has done before – this will be her last start before a break.

“She won’t start again in Melbourne after the Cantala,” Widdup said. “I’ve looked after her all the way through and we want to be sure she will come back and be a force again in the autumn.”

Whilst Widdup naturally is hoping for another great result on Saturday, he is confident sending the mare to Melbourne will be beneficial to her.

“It’s her first trip away, and I’m sure it will be good for her,” he said.”

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winning jockey Jye McNeil chased the mount on Icebath, and goes into Saturday’s race in top form.

After being narrowly beaten on favorite Smokin’ Romans in today’s Group 3 Bendigo Cup (2400m), he won the last two races at the meeting.

Widdup will be watching from afar, leaving his right-hand man Andre Rabbett to look after Icebath and stablemates Adelong (also a Flemington runner on Saturday) and Outlook, who contests a Benchmark 70 Handicap (2600m) at Friday night’s Cranbourne meeting.

Glen Boss will ride Adelong in the Group 3 Furphy Sprint (1100m), whilst Fred Kersley has been booked for last start Newcastle 2300m winner Outlook, who races in the Icebath colours.

“Adelong has raced against the likes of Nature Strip, Eduardo and Masked Crusader (the three placegetters in the recent $15m The Everest) at her three runs this campaign, and raced well,” Widdup said.

“They aren’t in this race on Saturday, and she deserves her chance to add a Group 3 to her record.

“Outlook continues to improve, and gives every indication she will manage the 2600m.”

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