After enduring the heartache of near-misses in the Golden Eagle and Doncaster Mile, Icebath’s emphatic victory in the $2 million The Invitation felt extra special for trainer Brad Widdup.
Widdup was an incredible sport when Icebath was beaten a short head by Colette in last year’s $7.5 million Golden Eagle and again when Colette’s Godolphin stablemate Cascadian downed his mare by a head in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile.
But he admitted he was starting to worry her turn might never come.
“You do because it’s a short period with these horses and when you get a good one, you want to make the most of it,” Widdup said.
“Twelve months is a long wait, but I’ll take it every day of the week.”
Prior to Saturday, Icebath’s last win was in a benchmark race at the corresponding meeting last spring.
Along with her feature race seconds, she had also placed in another three stakes races and had no luck when blocked for a run and finishing midfield in the Epsom Handicap.
Earmarked as a wet track specialist by some, Icebath ($6) had no trouble with the firm ground at Randwick and Kerrin McEvoy was able to give her an unimpeded run, the mare charging clear late to score comfortably by 1-1/4 lengths over Rocha Clock ($19).
Forbidden Love ($21) was a long head back in third with $2.40 favourite Entriviere sticking on for fourth after taking up the uncustomary leadership role when she was trapped wide early.
Widdup said Icebath had been going particularly well this campaign and he knew luck in the run would be more influential to her chances than track conditions.
“Everyone was saying, dry tracks and all that. I’ve always dismissed it, it’s just getting the right run,” Widdup said.
“The whole preparation she’s been flying and I’ve been trying to keep a lid on it.
“I thought we were in for a good performance today if we could get the right run.”
Widdup confirmed he would consider taking Icebath to Melbourne and backing her up in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on the opening day of the Cup carnival.
“I would like to get her down to Melbourne,” Widdup said.
“We have got that race next week, the Empire Rose, but everything is going to have to be right with her. This makes it a bit easier winning today.”
Widdup also went close to snaring the other rich race on Saturday’s program with Keefy finishing runner-up to Hilal in the $1 million Bondi Stakes (1600m).
“It’s been a big afternoon,” he said.