SUNDAY: October 31, 2021: “I’M getting used to it!”
That was Brad Widdup’s succinct comment in the wake of yet another agonisingly tense finish which again denied he and his classy mare Icebath an overdue Group 1 breakthrough at Flemington yesterday.
On a high only minutes earlier after his I Am Invincible filly Authentic Jewel had bolted in first-up at Newcastle in a $35,000 race, he watched from home as Icebath ($6.50) went within a whisker of clinching the $2m Kennedy Cantala (1600m).
Second last at the 400m, the Sacred Falls mare gallantly sustained a determined burst to go under by the barest possible margin to Western Australian-owned Superstorm ($8), who turned three previous Group 1 placings into success at racing’s elite level.
Beaten in similar finishes in the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens 12 months ago and the $3m Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick in April during The Championships, Icebath finally hooked a big race when she came from last to win the inaugural $2m The Invitation (1400m) against her sex at Randwick yesterday week.
However, it did not carry Group or Listed status; ever valuable for any mare who eventually goes to stud.
Whilst understandably admitting it was “b…. frustrating for everyone concerned”, Widdup was nonetheless full of praise for his stable star.
“She is so tough,” he said today. “Icebath had done a bit of work at even time at Hawkesbury the reverse way of going before The Invitation, but never had a proper gallop that way.
“It was her first trip interstate and she started from the outside barrier (14).
“Icebath is a Group 1 horse every day of the week in terms of ability, but until you win one, you haven’t got that on your record.”
Widdup said his right-hand man Andre Rabbett reported the mare had come through yesterday’s tough run extremely well – but that’s it for the time being.
“She will be floated home overnight and, provided everything is okay with her, she will be in a paddock on Tuesday,” he said.
“I will give her a month’s break, and we’ll aim again in the autumn at Group 1s such as the Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill (against her own sex) and Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
“I’m sure she still has a lot to offer.”
Icebath, ironically, turned the tables on Cantala third placegetter Cascadian, who nudged her out of this year’s Doncaster, and also proved conclusively that she is not simply a brilliant wet track performer.
Her two latest runs in The Invitation and Cantala have been on “Good 3” surfaces.
Widdup also was pleased with the performance of another of his mares Outlook, who races in the same colours as Icebath, at last Friday night’s Cranbourne meeting.
After winning over 2300m at Newcastle, Outlook led and finished fourth in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (2600m).
“It was her first try at that distance, and she led when nothing else wanted to and was beaten less than two lengths,” Widdup said.
“She will come home and start next in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (2300m) at Newcastle on November 28.
“Outlook will probably have only one or two more runs this time. She is still 12 months away from reaching her peak.”
Showtime Lady will be the leading Hawkesbury trainer’s final Flemington carnival representative when she contests Thursday’s Benchmark 70 Handicap (1700m) for three and four-year-old fillies and mares.
. Authentic Jewel ($3), a $650,000 yearling buy at the Gold Coast early last year for B K Racing & Breeding and their racing manager Ben Vassallo, gave Widdup his 14th win of the season with an impressive resumption yesterday.
With Mitchell Bell aboard, she cruised along in front and never looked threatened in the Class 1 Handicap (900m).
The lightly-raced filly was having only her fifth start and made it two wins on end; having taken a 2YO Maiden (1000m) at Kembla Grange in July before a break.
“She trialled nicely at home a fortnight ago, and this 900m race substituted for a second trial,” Widdup said.
“Authentic Jewel did a few things wrong in races last time in work, even though she was good at home.
“She has come back a lot stronger, and I was especially pleased with how she relaxed and raced truly yesterday.”