Peter Moody has expressed his assurances that Exceed And Excel filly Curtana has what it takes to make her Queensland race debut this weekend before backing up just seven days later in the prestigious Stradbroke Handicap without issue.
Curtana, a winner of five of her nine starts to date, enjoyed a brilliant spring campaign last season winning her first black-type in the Listed Gucci Stakes (1200m) on Crown Oaks Day shortly after her brave second-place finish behind champion Star Witness in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
“She backed up well after running second to Star Witness in the spring and won,” Moody said.
This year Moody bought Curtana back in a 1000m sprint at Caulfield on April 30, a race she narrowly won before continuing her string of success last-start winning the Peter Briede Handicap (1200m) on May 14.
Her good form this year has been a very positive sign as Curtana underwent surgery on her off-hind leg due to bone chip during her recent spell.
The continually improving filly is now set for her sunshine state debut at Eagle Farm on Saturday, Curtana engaged to race in the $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m).
“It’s been three weeks between runs for her but it was always our intention to run this Saturday,” Moody said.
“She’ll have a good hit-out on Saturday (in the QTC Cup) and that’ll bring her on for the Stradbroke.”
Originally nominated for last Saturday’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m), Moody made the decision to miss a showdown with star sprinter Hay List.
As it turned out, Hay List was scratched from the feature due to adverse health.
Drawn in barrier 14 and due to be ridden by Stephen Baster, Curtana’s recent form and nice 52kg lightweight have her as the $5 second favourite in QTC Cup markets behind boom galloper Sincero ($2.80).
Curtana is then set to take her spot in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at the same track Saturday week.
Although yet to race over a distance greater than 1200m Curtana is well-liked in the Stradbroke markets, which are also lead by Sincero, the filly paying $14.
As is the story with Sincero, Curtana is right on the edge of making the Stradbroke Handicap field, the pair sitting 19th and 20th respectively in the order of entry both allocated the 49.5kg lightweight.
A win in the QTC Cup on Saturday is the final way for a horse to gain a Stradbroke ballot exemption.
If that Straddie start doesn’t go to Curtana, Moody may find it hard to hide his disappointment after he chose to bypass the richer $200,000 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) with her on Saturday in favour of the QTC Cup.
“The whole decision to take Curtana to Brisbane was based on getting her into the Stradbroke,” he said.