Elusive Stakes win in the offing for Icebath

It’s easy to say there’s still pressure on trainer Brad Widdup and his horse Icebath but it’s also pretty easy to say there isn’t.

Most trainers would kill for a horse that could win $4.2 million in prizemoney in her career. But Icebath is a mare and winning a Stakes race is the main goal.

She’s placed in nine Stakes races to date including four at Group 1 level and on Saturday she drops back in grade to try and win that elusive Stakes race in the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) at Randwick.

“I will be very relieved if she does win,” Widdup said.

“It’s been bloody frustrating but you’ve just got to keep going. The staff and owners feel it as well. You cop a bit of flack over it but you can fall back on the amount of prizemoney she’s won.

“A few years ago she would’ve only had won about a million dollars but she’s got more than $4 million in the bank. She has won a $2 million race. When you look at the placings she’s ran, I’m sure she’s still valuable. I think she’ll be popular (with breeders).”

Icebath is ready to claim a well-deserved stakes win at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: Grant Guy

Widdup could’ve gone north to Brisbane in the quest for Group 1 glory but instead he opted to keep the mare to Group 3 level in Sydney, not just because it’s an easier task but because he’s got plans for Icebath for the next 12 months.

The Hawkesbury trainer said she was bright and well on Wednesday and raring to go after a third running in both the Doncaster Mile and Queen of the Turf.

“I want to try her at 2000m. I don’t want to go to Brisbane this year,” Widdup said. “If I don’t try her out here over 2000m it would be in a Cox Plate or a Mackinnon Stakes and I don’t want to do that.”

“Her main goal this year will be the Epsom and this race looks like an ideal chance to try her at 2000m.

“She’s come out of two solid races but she hasn’t really had any gut buster runs and she pulled up very well from Saturday.”

Widdup will eventually get Icebath to Brisbane and it might be in races to end her career before she heads off to the breeding barn.

“If we’re going to pull up stumps next year then we’ll go to Brisbane for a Stradbroke and Tatt’s Tiara or a Hollindale and Doomben Cup,” Widdup said.

“I want to have a full spring and autumn before we worry about Brisbane next year. There’s so many good races that she’s eligible for.”

Widdup will give Devil Racer a chance to race at Group level again when he runs in the Frank Packer Plate (2000m) after fourth running in the Carbine Club Stakes (1600m).

“I’m happy to throw him in the deep end because he’s had a good grounding in the Benchmark racing at this time of the year,” Widdup said.

“You want to have a go and it gives you an idea of ​​what sort of level they’re at and stepping out to 2000m should help him.

“I thought his run was good in the Carbine Club. When that good horse (Straight Arron) sprinted past him he was left a bit flat footed and got held up.”

Widdup does want to get Queen Bellissimo to Brisbane this campaign and she’ll kick things off in a Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m) to end the Randwick card.

She’s rated a $12 chance behind the speedy Maotai ($3.80).

“I’m really happy with her. She had a good gallop on Tuesday morning and she’s in really good order,” Widdup said.

“She’s really developed and she’s a big mare now.

“If she gives it a shake on Saturday she’ll improve a hell of a lot and I’d like to find a black-type race for her in Brisbane or one of the stand alone meetings coming up.

“If you can win a Saturday race in Sydney you’re going pretty well.”

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