Melbourne Cup runner takes out star-studded trial

Headline gallopers Verry Elleegant and Home Affairs were among a host of big names tuning up for their autumn returns at Warwick Farm.

Home Affairs looked bigger and stronger, Icebath flashed home late, Maximal underlined his talent while Verry Elleegant was in cruise control.

They were just four of the stars in action at Thursday’s Warwick Farm barrier trials as the build-up to the autumn carnival races continued.

Home Affairs led throughout under a hold to claim the elite heat by three-quarters of a length, defeating the fast-finishing Icebath with Maximal another long head away.

Making her first public appearance since her Melbourne Cup heroics, Verry Elleegant was given a quiet hitout by James McDonald to finish eighth and was strong through the line.

Trainer Brad Widdup was satisfied with Icebath’s effort as she prepares to launch her latest campaign at Randwick on February 12, most likely in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).

“We gave her a nice, solid trial. She is kicking off over 1400 this time so we’ve got to have her as forward as we can first-up,” Widdup said.

“She had a nice spring and she did well in her break. She didn’t have too long out and she is in good order.”

Widdup is keeping his options open with Icebath this autumn and says the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes are both on the table, as is the All-Star Mile in Melbourne.

“I will go to the Apollo and then the Guy Walter and we might even look at the All-Star Mile. She is in that as well and we’d seriously look at that,” Widdup said.

John O’Shea confirmed import Maximal will kick off in the Apollo Stakes, which is also the expected first-up target for Verry Elleegant.

There was plenty of interest in the two-year-old heats with Merson Cooper Stakes winner Ebhaar clocking the quickest time of the three juvenile trials in his impressive win over Mumbai Jewel.

Unbeaten colt Sejardan wasn’t extended to finish fourth, while exciting youngster Shalatin stretched out nicely to fill the same position in a separate heat behind Starry Jack.

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