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  • Provincial Racing NSW


HAWKESBURY’S Group 1 winning mare Icebath and Newcastle’s crack young jockey Dylan Gibbons were big winners at Racing’s Night Of Champions Awards last evening.

The black tie function for the recently concluded 2022-23 season was held at Royal Randwick.

Icebath was named Sky Thoroughbred Central NSW Provincial Champion, and Gibbons the Caryl Williamson NSW Racing Writers Personality of the Year.

The now retired Icebath, who was purchased by Yulong Investments for $2.3m at the Inglis Chairman’s Sale in May, clinched a Group 1 breakthrough for both herself and Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup at Flemington last spring, in the Empire Stakes (1600m) against her own sex.

A $100,000 yearling buy, Icebath returned her owners just over $5.2m on the track with five wins and 16 placings (five of which were in Group 1s).

Widdup and Australian Turf Club director David McGrath, one of the mare’s previous owners, attended the dinner and were thrilled to accept the award.

“We’ve got 60-odd horses in work at Hawkesbury, and still trying to find a replacement for Icebath,” Widdup said. “She came along at the right time for us, and was a magnificent advertisement for our stable.”

Sydney Morning Herald turf editor Chris Roots said Gibbons carried the expectation of being one of the best young prospects in the saddle into the new season, and lived up to nearly every expectation, except his cherished goal of the Sydney apprentice’s title.

“Dylan’s battle with Zac Lloyd was enthralling as the lead changed many times.

“He rode like a senior on the track and was an outstanding performer off it in interviews.

“His maiden Group 1 success on Explosive Jack in the Sydney Cup was the highlight of his season, and he thought of everyone except himself post-race.

“Just the pure joy of knowing that not only is it a great moment for me, but for everyone who has helped me get to this point,” was Gibbons’ comment.

“I’m sure they are enjoying it as much as I am,” he added.

Roots concluded: This sums up an outstanding young man – modest, humble and a winner.”

Last year’s Wyong and Newcastle Gold Cups winner Durston, who went on to also capture the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, was named NSW Champion Stayer.

*Story John Curtis, September 1, 2023 - Pics Racing NSW*

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