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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Updated: Jan 31, 2023

MONDAY: January 30, 2023: STAR mare Icebath is ready to begin a new preparation at Royal Randwick on Saturday week.

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup switched plans and trialled his maiden Group 1 winner at Rosehill Gardens last Friday rather than at Warwick Farm today.

“I was going to trial her at Warwick Farm, but there was no Group trial on the course proper, so I took advantage of that at Rosehill,” Widdup said from New Zealand this evening, where he has been attending the Karaka yearling sale and purchased two fillies today, one by Churchill and the other by Proisir, for $200,000 and $240,000 respectively.

“I was very pleased with how Icebath trialled; she went really good.

“With the two trials now under belt, she is ready to kick off at Randwick on Saturday week in the Apollo Stakes.”

The $250,000 Group 2 Apollo (1400m) will be run under weight-for-age conditions, and Brett Prebble will be her rider.

Prebble has been aboard Icebath in both her recent trials; the latest when fourth to North Star Lass (Cox Plate winner Anamoe was second) over 1000m at Rosehill last Friday.

Icebath, already a $5.2m earner, has also been nominated for the $5m All-Star Mile at The Valley on March 18. Eighty-one horses have been entered, and public voting to help choose the majority of the field will open next Monday.

Whilst Icebath didn’t go to Warwick Farm today, her stablemate The Poacher did as he also nears a return to racing.

The promising four-year-old, who has won four of his seven starts and three of his last four, finished fourth to Lohnraki in an Open 824m heat.

He had won a 900m Rosehill trial on January 12, and may begin an autumn campaign at Rosehill on February 18 in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) for three and four-year-olds.

“The Poacher is going great, but I’m not certain whether he will be a Provincial-Midway Championships horse,” Widdup said.

“We’ll know more after he has his first run back.”

Whilst The Poacher isn’t a certain Championships contender, Widdup still has Phearson and Short Shorts heading that way.

“Phearson will need only the one trial before resuming, whilst Short Shorts was freshened after finishing sixth over 1400m at Rosehill in late November (she had led throughout to win a Benchmark 78 Handicap over the same distance earlier that month),” he said.

Phearson is chasing a hat-trick having won his last two starts at Hawkesbury (1300m) and Kembla Grange (1400m) in September and October last year, and Short Shorts has won four of her 12 starts to date.

. Hawkesbury will stage two qualifiers for the Provincial-Midway Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 8; the first on March 4 for Provincial trainers only and the second on March 23 for both Provincial and Midway trainers. Both will be over 1400m.

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