Leading Victorian trainer Peter Moody has expressed his confidence ahead of today’s QTC Cup showdown with his smart filly Curtana, the ace horseman happy with the decision not to run her in the Doomben 10,000 a fortnight ago.
Moody originally had Exceed And Excel three-year-old Curtana entered for the Doomben 10,000 showdown, but made a last minute decision not to accept her for the $650,000 Group 1 feature.
Curtana’s main Brisbane Winter Carnival target has always been next Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), and in a bid to secure her spot in the rich sprint Moody has chosen to start the filly at Eagle Farm today.
Offering the winner the final Stradbroke Handicap ballot exemption, today’s $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) is shaping up as a thriller with Curtana one of the 16 remaining hopefuls vying for the win.
Currently Curtana sits 20th on the Stradbroke ballot, and while the withdrawal of a number of horses higher up the entry may see her earn a start without winning the QTC Cup today, Moody knows it is unlikely.
The switch of plans for Curtana’s campaign has been labelled ‘not ideal’ as it means if Curtana does gain a Stradbroke start, she will have to race twice in just seven days.
However, Moody said he was comfortable with Plan B.
“I’m very comfortable with the fact she didn’t run in the 10,000 even though Hay list came out,” Moody said.
Dominant favourite for both the QTC Cup and the upcoming Stradbroke is Stephen Farley’s ultra consistent galloper Sincero.
Umatilla gelding Sincero may have the six straight wins and the ideal barrier one draw today but makes a huge step up in grade and there are queries about the quality of horses that the three-year-old has defeated to date.
Moody, then, has high hopes that Curtana can back up from her last-start victory over 1200m at Caulfield on May 14 with an upset in Eagle Farm Race 6 today.
“The extra week has really helped her,” Moody said.
“She’s thrived in the extra time in Brisbane.”
A winner of five of her nine starts to date, Curtana seeks her third on the trot and will move into barrier 12 with the early scratchings of Pinwheel, Rightfully Yours and the three emergencies.
“There are still a couple of hurdles, I would have preferred a better draw,” Moody said of Curtana’s QTC Cup gate.
“We definitely need luck early.
“I’d like to see her settled just ahead of midfield with cover and if she gets that I’m sure she will hit the line hard.”
History is also against Curtana heading towards the Stradbroke next start if she does claim an upset at Eagle Farm today.
Over the 32-year QTC Cup history, no winner has gone on to take out the Stradbroke in the same season and only three of the last 20 QTC Cup winners were able to back up a week later and place in Queensland’s most prestigious sprint.
Moody is unperturbed by the statistics.
“The record says horses can’t win this and the Stradbroke but she is the right horse to back up.”
Last spring Curtana showed her ability to back up and win when she scored her first black-type victory in the Listed Gucci Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day just five days after running a game second behind Star Witness in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
“Curtana was Group 1 runner-up to Star Witness,” Moody, who is also unfazed about having to face Sincero today.
“Sincero has built a great record and obviously has talent but this is his D Day.”
Sincero is at $3.20 to win today and Curtana is the current $6.50 second elect, but it is $9 shot King Pulse who Moody tips as another danger.
“Like Curtana, King Pulse also has run against better opposition than Sincero,” he said.
Drawn in barrier five, Michael Moroney’s Canny Lad four-year-old King Pulse is fifth-up for the season most recently running two lengths away fifth to Woorim in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 21.
“King Pulse was beaten a nose in the Coolmore Stud Stakes as a spring three-year-old and then finished fourth to Wanted first-up in the (2010) Newmarket,” Moody explained.
“Obviously he has had injury problems but he looks to be back on track now.”