The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The mares are tipped to dominate the Epsom Handicap 2022 this weekend in Sydney with perennial place-getter Icebath narrow favourite to secure her maiden Group 1 success.
Brad Widdup’s classy daughter of Sacred Falls is one of a dozen milers making up the class field for this spring’s Group 1 $1.5 million Epsom Handicap (1600m), and she is drawn a treat midfield in gate seven.
The flying James McDonald has the ride chasing his second Epsom while Icebath is out to atone for her ninth in the race last year.
From eight Group 1 assignments to date she has enjoyed six placings.
She is after her first victory since taking out the inaugural $2 million The Invitation race last October after her unplaced Epsom run.
Icebath has been competitive in plenty since including her back-to-back thirds at this track and distance in the Doncaster Mile and Queen Of The Turf Stakes in the wet over the autumn.
This weekend she presents fit fourth-up and was last seen finishing a close second behind Godolphin gun Anamoe in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) here on September 17.
Icebath sits top of the Epsom Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.20 and is followed closely in the markets by the Chris Waller-trained Hinged at $4.80.
Waller has a strong recent record in the Epsom having prepared four winners in the past nine years, most recently Kolding (2019).
The master trainer is back this year saddling-up three in the field led by Hinged in gate nine with Kerrin McEvoy retaining the ride on the Worthy Cause four-year-old.
Winner of this year’s Group 1 Surround Stakes back in February, Hinged ran a bolter of a race last start when finishing just over a length back third to Anamoe in the George Main.
Waller’s other 2022 Epsom Handicap hopefuls are fellow mares Fangirl ($7.50) and Kiku ($26) drawn in gates five and 12 respectively.
Winner of the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (1850m) when defeating Hinged narrowly back in March, Sebring four-year-old Fangirl was good fresh when runner-up to Anamoe in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m).
She was flat in the George Main when fifth, but gets the chance to improve here.
Zoustar five-year-old Kiku meanwhile could present a touch of value for the stable, the consistent mare last seen returning with a tight win over Mr Mozart in Rosehill’s Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) on September 10.
Occupying the third line of Epsom Handicap betting is the best fancied of the boys in the mix this year with Top Ranked ($5).
The Annabel Neasham-trained seven-year-old is equal top weight with the rails-drawn Converge on 56.5kg and remains lightly-raced having just his 16th start on Saturday.
The gun grey has won seven so far after continuing his good record fresh in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) with 59.5kg on September 17.
He will appreciate the drop in weight on the weekend and gets the run of the race from barrier four with Hugh Bowman aboard again.
Rounding out the single-figure hopes is then the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-triained Cross Talk at $9 coming off a third in the Bill Ritchie.
Nimalee meanwhile will back-up in the Epsom Handicap field after her devastatingly close victory from barrier 15 of 16 in Rosehill’s Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) last weekend.
2022 Epsom Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||3624x3x5x1||TOP RANKED (IRE)||Annabel Neasham||Hugh Bowman||4||56.5kg||110|
|2||8x33120x69||CONVERGE||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Tim Clark||1||56.5kg||107|
|3||2x12730x63||ELLSBERG||Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou||Brenton Avdulla||3||56kg||107|
|4||46x251x031||NIMALEE||Matthew Smith||Regan Bayliss||10||55.5kg||110|
|5||649333×722||ICEBATH (NZ)||Brad Widdup||James McDonald||7||54.5kg||109|
|6||1x15410x25||FANGIRL||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||5||54kg||107|
|7||35320515×1||KIKU||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||12||54kg||107|
|8||6x71324x53||HINGED||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||9||51.5kg||107|
|9||x13x121133||CROSS TALK (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Ms Rachel King||6||51kg||95|
|10||x131010x73||CHARACTER||James Cummings||Reece Jones (a)||11||51kg||94|
|11||5x31024x03||PIPPALI||Jason Coyle||Ms Kathy O’Hara||8||51kg||92|
|12||x714380x52||WAR ETERNAL (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Jay Ford||2||51kg||83|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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