Brad Widdup is under no illusion about the task ahead for stablemates Icebath and Akari but the leading Hawkesbury trainer is hoping both mares can turn around their fortunes at Randwick.
Icebath and Akari were originally targeting the Group Three Angst Stakes on Saturday but after both drew wide, Widdup opted to alter course.
Icebath will now tackle the $500,000 Silver Eagle (1300m) and Akari the Drinkwise Handicap (1400m).
The talented but enigmatic Icebath will need to be at her best against a small but classy field which includes star Queenslander Alligator Blood and stakes winners Dawn Passage, Flit and Subpoenaed.
“We were looking at the Angst then she drew ordinary so we decided to have a crack at the Silver Eagle,” Widdup said.
“We’ve got the blinkers back on and hopefully we can have her a bit closer.
“I’m not getting too carried away as the horse is up in grade and back in distance but she’s run a couple of good seconds which could possibly have been wins.”
The first three horses over the line in the Silver Eagle will be exempt from ballot for Australia’s second richest race, the $7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 31.
Widdup is also pleased with the way Akari has been going about her work despite kicking off her spring with two unplaced runs at Rosehill.
“It mightn’t look good on paper but her two runs have been really good and I’d love to see her bounce back,” Widdup said.
“There’s a bit of quality in the race but I’d like to think she can finish in the top three.
“Her work has been good. She’s just got to get into the right spot and she should run well.”
Akari, who races in the Werrett Bloodstock colours, won the Listed Reginald Allen Stakes last spring before saluting again at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day.
Widdup has pencilled in the $250,000 Inglis Bracelet (1600m) for both Icebath and Akari.
The fillies and mares race is on Oaks Day at Flemington but the trainer is discouraged by the current COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.
“We would love to have had Akari down in Melbourne already but it’s been a nightmare with the COVID,” he said.
“I’ve been waiting for things to relax but it doesn’t look like happening.”