MONDAY: January 31, 2022: BRAD Widdup has taken a line through fellow classy mare Colette to give Icebath a strong first-up chance at Royal Randwick on Saturday week.
The dual Group 1 placegetter will make her debut at weight-for-age in the $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).
“Colette won the Apollo last year (defeating Kolding and Verry Elleegant), and there’s not much between the two mares (as evidenced by her nudging Icebath out of the $7.5m Golden Eagle, 1500m at Rosehill Gardens 15 months ago),” Widdup said this evening.
“Icebath runs well fresh and though it’s her first weight-for-age test, I expect her to run well.
“She’s a little heavier than her ideal weight at present, but will that trim off in the coming weeks.
“I’m very happy with her.”
Not even a late riding change at the Rosehill trial session this morning fazed Widdup in the lead-up to the Apollo.
Icebath contested the opening heat, which contained six Group 1 winners including Melbourne Cup heroine Verry Elleegant, on the course proper.
Her inaugural The Invitation winning rider Kerrin McEvoy had a punctured tyre and didn’t make it to the track until the 10th trial.
“It was important, but nothing I could do about it,” Widdup said. “I found out 15 minutes before the trial.”
Regan Bayliss substituted on Icebath, who ran eighth in the 1000m trial on the course proper, with 2020 Epsom Handicap placegetter Riodini flying out in front and leading throughout.
“The markers were out as they raced there last Saturday, and with Riodini stringing them out, it was difficult to make ground,” Widdup said.
“But she finished off nicely, and is ready to go back to the races.”
Widdup has confirmed McEvoy will ride Icebath in the Apollo, and she will run again a fortnight later against her own sex in the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m), also at Randwick.
Whilst her first two runs have been pencilled in, Icebath’s third start this campaign will be in either Sydney on March 12 or Melbourne a week later.
The Sydney race is the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill (also against her own sex), whilst the $5m All-Star Mile will be run at Flemington a week later.
All-Star Mile voting began today, with the public choosing the 10 most popular horses and a further five wildcards chosen by a Racing Victoria panel to make up the 15-strong field.
“Undoubtedly we will be guided by her first two performances in the Apollo and Guy Walter,” Widdup said.
“A couple of Icebath’s owners live in Melbourne, and naturally are keen for her to run there.”
Icebath was pipped in the Cantala Stakes at Flemington last October over the All-Star Mile 1600m; her second narrow Group 1 defeat last year.