Fred Kerlsey lands Doncaster mount on Icebath

It took some last-minute shuffling but Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup has engaged Victorian hoop Fred Kersley to ride Icebath in this Saturday’s Doncaster Handicap at Royal Randwick.

With a suspension to previously booked jockey Kerrin Mcevoy, Widdup had to scramble to find someone who could ride close to the assigned 51.5kgs and wanted a pilot that had already had a sit on his Sacred Falls mare.

Kersley was on board last time out when Icebath finished ninth in the All Star Mile at Flemington on March 19.

“Fred Kersley will ride her, he rode her in Melbourne the other day so I think he can get down to 52 (kgs) on very late notice,” Widdup told SEN’s Andrew Bensley on Wednesday morning.

“We had to act quickly and wanted to get someone that rode her in the past and Jay Ford was out of play (already engaged on Brutality).

“Tommy Sherry couldn’t get down to the weight, well he said he could, but I thought he’d probably have to cut a leg off so Freddie Kersley is pretty confident he can ride 52.

“That was important as I didn’t want someone who had to starve themselves for the next five or six days, it’s going to be a testing race.”

Already a winner of over $3.8 million in earnings, the five-year-old has been thereabouts without winning in all three starts this preparation, but Widdup has had this $3 million feature in mind the entire campaign.

“She’s been fine the whole way through, we got her home straight after the races and iced her because we knew what was ahead of us,” Widdup said.

“She was good Sunday morning and travelled back great and she’s been terrific.”

Icebath has drawn handily in gate nine in a maximum field of 20 and gets her chance to sit a bit closer than she has in previous outings. Last year’s Doncaster runner-up has had a habit of drawing wide of late.

“As long as she sits in a spot where she’s comfortable early she’ll finish off strongly,” Widdup said.

“She could be closer than she normally is just from the barrier, but I certainly won’t be telling him to be pushing forward.

“We tried that a little bit at Flemington the other day and it didn’t really work so once bitten twice shy.

“She may be a little bit closer but that will only be because that’s how she landed, not because they were the instructions.”

With rain forecast all week and the probability of a Heavy surface, Widdup is confident his mare will find the conditions favourable. From ten starts on the Soft and Heavy going, Icebath has had two wins and six placings.

“I think she gets through it really good,” Widdup said.

“She always comes on fourth and fifth-up so I’m sure we’re going to see that Saturday.”

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