Winter find set to Show up in stakes test
On one hand, Brad Widdup is in the enviable position of having a boutique group of promising mares for the spring.
On the other, he finds himself in the predicament of trying to keep them apart.
In a pre-COVID world, Widdup would have split his squad between states but given the logistical issues with travel and the racing ban on horses returning from Victoria, that has become more complicated for smaller stables like Widdup’s.
Two of his spring aspirants begin their journeys at Randwick on Saturday, Icebath in a benchmark race and Adelong in the Group Three Toy Show Quality (1100m).
The latter was one of the late-season finds in Sydney, stringing together a hat-trick of wins before Widdup tipped her out with the carnival in mind.
She had just over two weeks in the paddock, although Widdup would have ideally given her longer.
“I was going to be able to give her a bit more of a break and look at Melbourne races but with what’s happened, you’ve got to concentrate on what’s here,” Widdup said.
“I’ve got a couple of mares here, Akari, Icebath and Switched. Akari has won a couple of stakes races, Icebath is stakes placed a few times and Switched isn’t far off that sort of thing and you can usually split them between Melbourne and Sydney.
“But everyone is in the same boat. You can’t run and hide.”
A winner of six of her eight starts, Adelong shapes as a black-type mare and is a clear favourite to land her first stakes win in the Toy Show.
She has residual fitness from her recent campaign and the benefit of a barrier trial, although she is hard to get a guide on at home.
“One day she will work brilliant, the next day she will work like she can’t win a maiden,” Widdup said.
“She is a bit tricky that way but she normally turns up and races well and I’m really happy with how she looks. She has her summer coat and she’s in excellent order.”
With regular rider James McDonald unable to make Adelong’s weight, Tim Clark has picked up the Randwick ride.
Glen Boss will partner Icebath, who returns after rounding out her autumn with back-to-back stakes placings.