“Last one out and we got the one,” Gollan said happily after the barrier draw.
“One alley, we’re happy with that.”
Big Jesse four-year-old Listen Son is one of a capacity field of 18 starters plus five emergencies accepted for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), the improving galloper to have the inside running from barrier one.
A winner of seven of his 26 starts to date, Listen Son will be five runs into his preparation this Saturday and only just managed to sneak into the Stradbroke line-up thanks to the withdrawal of a number of horses higher up the order of entry.
“At the start of the campaign we were pretty well aware he had to win a race to get in the field,” Gollan said.
“At the last minute we’ve gotten in, but the campaign has been targeted to get into this race all along.”
After finishing a first-up second behind Border Rebel in the Listed Hinkler Handicap (1200m) at Eagle Farm on April 23, Listen Son didn’t handle the Slow going at the Gold Coast at his next start when unplaced in the Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) on May 7.
The horse proved it was his wide barrier 15 draw that most hampered his chances in the PM’s Cup, however, when Listen Son returned to form coming within a half-head of fellow Stradbroke Handicap hopeful Woorim in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 21.
Another disaster draw stopped Listen Son from finishing in the money last Saturday when after jumping from gate 16 in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm, they bravely went on to run fourth beaten just two lengths by winner Varenna Miss.
“We’ve been drawing some wide alleys,” Gollan said.
“He’s unbelievably tough.
“He had a torrid run from the wide gate on Saturday (in the QTC Cup).
“He’s been racing terrific this horse and he’s been crying out for a change of luck.”
Listen Son is rated an $18 outsider in the latest Stradbroke Handicap markets that now have Doomben 10,000 winner Beaded and dual defending champ Black Piranha installed as the equal $6 favourites.
Prior to the Stradbroke barriers being drawn, Peter Snowden’s smart mare Beaded was the clear favourite ahead of Doomben 10,000 runner-up Love Conquers All.
However, with Beaded and the Hawkes-trained Love Conquers All suffering blows drawing wide with gates 17 and 16 respectively, Con Karakatsanis’ seven-year-old galloper Black Piranha with barrier three has firmed right in.
Gollan also sees that with the favourites and likely leaders out wide, including Kelso Wood’s speed setter Zero Rock in gate 14, Listen Son is in with a real chance for a boilover in the Stradbroke.
“They may have to do a fair bit of work to get over,” Gollan said.
While doubts surround a number of the other Stradbroke starters getting to the 1400 metres on Saturday, Listen Son has a good record at the track and the distance.
He has started 12 times on the Eagle Farm track producing five wins, four seconds a third and just two unplaced runs.
At the Stradbroke Handicap distance, Listen Son in unbeaten in four 1400m runs, his most recent being in November last year.
“He loves getting back at Eagle Farm particularly at this 1400 (metres),” Gollan said.
“Let’s hope on Saturday he can race his best again.”