Today a field of top gallopers will put their Stradbroke Handicap credentials on the line in the QTC Cup, and while most of the attention has been firmly focused on Stephen Farley’s boom three-year-old Sincero, Toowoomba horseman Tony Gollan has warned not to discount his runner Listen Son.
Big Jesse gelding Listen Son has been in great form this season, but suffered an early blow ahead of today’s $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm when they drew the horror gate of 19.
With the early scratchings of Pinwheel, Rightfully Yours and the three QTC Cup emergencies, Listen Son gets the chance to move in a few spots and is now set to jump from gate 16.
They still have a tough task ahead, however, with the double-digit barrier and a quality field of rivals including Sincero seeking their seventh straight success.
Despite the negatives, there has still been plenty of love for Listen Son in the QTC Cup markets, the in-form four-year-old currently paying $8 to claim an upset.
With the quality of competition Sincero has defeated coming into question, the price on the race favourite has drifted slightly from $2.50 out to $2.90 overnight.
While Listen Son hasn’t won a race since November last year, he has shown plenty of promise this prep.
At their most recent start at Doomben on May 21, they came within a half-head of entering the winner’s stall when finishing a devastatingly close second to Woorim in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m).
Gollan is hopeful that Listen Son’s nice Eagle Farm record – five wins, four seconds and a third from 11 starts – and the fact that Larry Cassidy, who has his last rides today before starting a suspension, has been booked for the ride.
“He’s hitting his best at this stage of the prep and we’re looking forward to getting back to Eagle Farm with him,” Gollan said.
Cassidy has ridden Listen Son on eight occasions including the BRC Sprint last-start and Gollan knows that the hoop’s association with his horse will be key to an upset today.
“Larry seems to understand the horse really well,” Gollan said.
“I’d expect him to probably lead although Military Rose might be a stumbling block there.
“He’s a go forward horse.
“Larry will just press forward from the gate so I suppose it just depends on how much petrol he uses getting across.”
While Gollan is cautious of Sincero, he doesn’t tip the favourite as unbeatable.
“Sincero is yet to be proven in the best company,” he said.
“I’m surprised he is favourite for the QTC Cup let along the Stradbroke (Handicap) at this stage.
“I’m not knocking Sincero, but he has a lot to prove yet.”
The Stephen Farley-trained young gun will get every chance to do just that today, Sincero drawn on the rails in barrier one and ideally weighted with just 52.5kg.
Although not yet assured a start in next Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), Sincero is the current favourite to win Queensland’s most lucrative race based on his impressive 73 per cent win rate.
Listen Son is also a Stradbroke hopeful, needing the QTC Cup win and accompanying ballot exemption for the Straddie to make the field as they currently sit 23rd on the order of entry.
Gollan said it would be a dream to have a Stradbroke Handicap runner.
“That’s always been our pipe dream,” he said.
“We knew from early on that we’d have to probably win this race (the QTC Cup) to qualify.
“If he wins…and pulls up well then we’d love to be in the Stradbroke.”
Listen Son is rated a $41 roughie in the latest Stradbroke Handicap markets.