Robert Heathcote’s leading local chance for the Stradbroke Handicap, Woorim has been handed a 1kg penalty for the $1 million sprint showdown after his win at Doomben last Saturday assuring his spot in Queensland’s richest winter race.
Show A Heart five-year-old Woorim was ultra impressive producing a blistering late burst of acceleration to mow down the frontrunners and score a narrow victory in the Group 3 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on the weekend.
The win saw the gelding soar up the order of entry for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11, Woorim rocketing up from 47th to 23rd on the ballot.
On Monday Racing Queensland announced that Woorim, previously allocated 51kg for the Stradbroke, will now have to carry 52kg if accepted for the final field.
Odds on Woorim to win the Straddie for the Queenslanders also firmed right in to $10, the galloper now fourth favourite in the markets behind Sincero ($4.60), Hay List ($5) and Beaded ($7.50).
Hay List and Beaded will get their chance of an earlier Group 1 win at the Brisbane Winter Carnival when they contest this Saturday’s Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
Before Saturday, Heathcote had Mossman gelding Buffering rated his best chance for the Stradbroke Handicap.
First-up for the year on April 30 Buffering defeated a top field including Woorim – three lengths away fifth – in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm before his third behind superstar Black Caviar in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) on May 14.
Now Heathcote has Woorim pinned as the better of the two for the Stradbroke title, the Eagle Farm-based horseman likely to be very happy with the weight penalty.
“If it’s a dry track (for the Stradbroke), it is going to take a damn good horse to beat him,” he said.
“I spoke to Lester Grimmett (Queensland Racing Chief Handicapper) the other day and I said what do I have to do to get into the Stradbroke,” Heathcote said after Woorim’s win on Saturday.
“If I win the BRC will you give me a penalty and he said you will have to win by a couple of lengths.
“Well we didn’t win by a couple of lengths, just a head, but it might help us get there.
“He is an extraordinary horse….his timing is impeccable.”
Still, Heathcote hasn’t completely ruled Buffering out saying the pair had completely different race styles and needed different track conditions.
“Just give me a dry track for Woorim and a wet track for Buffering,” he said.
Heathcote is hoping Woorim will be the one to hand him his maiden Group 1 win as a trainer, having come oh-so-close in the Sir Rupert Clark Stakes at Caulfield last spring.
In the 2010 Rupert Clark Woorim ran a game third behind the ladies when beaten just a quarter of a length by winner Response and runner-up No Evidence Needed.
“In the Rupert Clark last September, he was two strides off being my first Group 1 winner and hopefully he can rectify that in a couple of weeks in the Straddy,” Heathcote said.
Corey Brown has been booked to take the mount on Woorim in the Stradbroke after their regular rider Damian Brown was suspended for causing interference throughout the BRC Sprint run.
Another locally-trained horse that enjoyed a win on the weekend and that also has the Stradbroke in their sights is Falino.
Jeffrey Caught’s Fusaichi Pegasus three-year-old scored a narrow victory beating Spirit Of Boom by a nose on the line in the Group 3 BTC Classic (1350m).
The smart gelding will now get their chance to qualify for the Stradbroke via a run in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.
Falino is well down the Stradbroke order of entry sitting 58th and as such is a $34 outsider in betting.
“If he can win the QTC Cup he’ll qualify for the Stradbroke,” Doomben-based trainer Caught said.
“He has to win it to get in.
“If he’s not good enough to win that then realistically he doesn’t deserve to be in it and I’ll send him to the paddock and get ready for the spring.”