With Stradbroke weights set to be released on Monday, Saturday shapes as a defining moment for this year’s winter showpiece, with five of the top 10 in betting scheduled to run.
Ladbrokes has Vega One on top at $9 and while he’s not running on Saturday, the market is certain to be reshaped by the performance of several other key runners.
Hawkesbury Guineas winner Dawn Passage sits second in the Stradbroke market at $10 and co-trainer Gai Waterhouse says Saturday’s Rosehill clash in the Inglis Guineas with boom gelding Masked Crusader will go a long way to determining if he is a legitimate contender.
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“This race will tell us,” Waterhouse said.
“This is a very important stepping stone for him. It will be interesting to see how he and Masked Crusader measure up against each other.
“He’s a good style of a horse, big and strong and there’s plenty of him. He’s done everything right since his win and if he can win again, he’s going to have a very bright future.”
Depending on what he does on Saturday, Dawn Passage is likely to receive around the 50kg mark in the Stradbroke (a half-kilo over the limit), which would have him about mid-30s when the order of entry is released with weights on Monday.
The Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Bellevue Hill, which resumes in Saturday’s Gold Coast Guineas, is a $41 Stradbroke chance, but Waterhouse said the best of him is likely to come over further.
“He has a stack of ability, but he’s been very immature mentally and physically,” she said.
“He’s one of those dudes that only does what he has to and everything at the Gold Coast happens very quickly, so it could be a bit sharp for him. Whatever he does, he will improve on it. But the form around him as a two-year-old was very exciting against the Everest winner Yes Yes Yes and he trialled very well. He’s been at Aquis Farm and has settled in well.”
Other key Stradbroke entries engaged in the Gold Coast Guineas include Exhilarates and Hightail, who are both rated $26 chances, while The Odyssey is at $61.
South Australia’s Goodwood has provided two of the past four Stradbroke winners in Santa Ana Lane and Under The Louvre, and Saturday’s race has four of the leading contenders for this year.
The Inevitable is the highest ranked of the Goodwood runners at $14, followed by Lyre, Santa Ana Lane (both $15) and defending champ Trekking ($17).
Racing Queensland handicapper Nathan Bourke indicated Santa Ana Lane is likely to receive around the 59kg mark in the Stradbroke, with Trekking in the vicinity of 57.5kg.
Owner notches record six-peat on home turf
If ever there was proof about the great uncertainty of racing, it came at Cairns on Thursday as prominent owner Tom Hedley celebrated a best-ever six wins on the card.
Hedley, who has been associated with the club for 40 years and is in his third tenure as chairman, races about 35 horses at a time, but the six-peat was the most his colours had saluted at the one meeting.
“I had five only a couple of weeks ago and that was pretty good too, but you have to pinch yourself, really. No matter where you are, to win six on the card at a TAB meeting is something a bit special,” Hedley said.
Hedley’s haul started with Rigel, Past Ready, Triumph Star and Centro Superior winning the first four, before Bet On Love and Full Recognition won the last two.
His colours have been prominent in the southeast through the deeds of Tyzone, and the owner is hoping the sprinter might go one better than last year when he takes on the Stradbroke on June 6.
“He’s on song. Everything is going as planned. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “He’s the best horse I’ve owned. Tyzone has taken us to a level we’ve never been in racing.”