By Alexander Grant
Ikaba has continued his strong start for a new stable by saluting as favourite in Tuesday’s opening race at Tyers Park. Sent out at short $2 odds for the Carpet Court Maiden Plate (1108m), Ikaba surged ahead on the Bathurst home straight to win by a length over a fast-finishing Foxy Queen ($4.60).
The three-year-old has made only two starts for Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup since coming across from Gerald Ryan’s Rosehill stables, but he’s quickly made a positive impression. Earlier this month, in his first start since April, Ikaba managed a third place before striking gold on Tuesday.
The ride on Ikaba was the only race on the Bathurst program for jockey Christian Reith but he made the most of it. Foreman for the winning Platnium Park stable, John Keegan, said there’s still more success to come for the Red Element x Schuckmannsburg gelding.
“He was pushed at the end but he’s got plenty up his sleeve. There’s still plenty of improvement to come off that,” he said. “We brought him here today after his first up run, where he was caught a little wide. He hit the line well so we thought today would be a good race for him.
“He did everything we expected of him. He’s been working well at home. Christian is well aware of the horse because he rides him in work as well. With barrier one Christian was always going to be able to get him forward. He was riding like he had the best horse in the race and that worked out well.”
Keegan said Widdup hasn’t looked into Ikaba’s long-term plans yet. “He’s a lightly raced three-year-old who’s a nice type. We’ll let him go through his grades and see where he ends up,” he said. “He’s very straightforward, got a good brain, does everything right and trials well. He’s a pleasure to train.”
Ikaba got out strongly from the inside barrier but Reith was happy to settle back in mid-field. Foxy Queen got across to the rail to lead the way, before being tackled by both Ibanez and See For Yourself on her outside.
Ibanez led the way at the 400m. Greg Ryan wasn’t far away as he stuck close to the rail on Foxy Queen. See For Yourself couldn’t match it with the frontrunners’ pace, but the same couldn’t be said for Ikaba. The favourite got by Ibanez and Foxy Queen with 200m left to run and never looked back.
Foxy Queen pulled back some ground late but the Widdup gelding justified his favouritism with a relatively comfortable success. Ibanez ($3.10) held on for third place.
Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin scored a win with Cosmologist in the third race of the meeting. Cosmologist ($5.50) won by a length in the Stitches On Keppel Maiden Handicap (1408m).