Wyong horseman Stephen Farley is looking to the heavens and hoping the predictions of wet weather in Brisbane for Saturday reign true with his boom three-year-old Sincero looking likely to sneak into the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) field.
Umatilla gelding Sincero stormed into Stradbroke contention with two first-up wins this preparation, the latest of which took his record to six on the trot when he took out the $250,000 Inglis 3YO Guineas (1600m) on May 14.
Last Saturday, however, Sincero gave away his status as Stradbroke favourite when he failed to produce the same form finishing four and a half lengths away 11th to Varenna Miss in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm.
“When I had a good look at the replay, the horse has copped a fair bit of buffering early,” Farley said of Sincero’s QTC Cup run.
“They stuck it to him, he was never really comfortable, and then he got chopped out at the furlong.
“The interference didn’t cost him the race but it did cost him from finishing closer and that would have made the run look better.
“I’ll be honest, that loss has taken a bit of pressure off us going into the Stradbroke.”
The QTC Cup flop saw Sincero remain 21st in the Stradbroke Handicap order of entry and drift out to around $9 in the markets.
With the announcement this morning that connections would not be accepting QTC Cup winner Varenna Miss for the Stradbroke, and that the Brett Partelle-trained Torio’s Quest (19th on the Stradbroke ballot) would also be a non-acceptor, Sincero now looks assured of gaining a start in the capacity 18-starter Stradbroke field.
Farley is confident that Sincero will return to form for the Stradbroke, the youngster to benefit from his lightweight and the likely wet track conditions at Eagle Farm on the day.
Sincero will carry just 50.5kg for the Stradbroke, after weights are risen 1kg at acceptance stage this morning, and jockey Jason Taylor, one of Queensland’s best lightweight hoops, has been booked for the ride.
“It was a matter of struggling to find someone who can get the weight naturally and be positive for you on the day,” Farley said of getting lucky with Taylor.
“This is the last chance we are going to get to beat the handicapper.
“He’s only got to carry 50.5kg in the race.
“I think he is a genuine Group horse.”
Farley gave Sincero a solid workout this morning and was very happy with how they ran with the addition of blinkers, which will be part of the horse’s gear for the first on Saturday.
“I just wanted to get the blinkers on him and give him a look,” Farley said.
“They will give him a bit more focus…to get him up on the bet and get him keen.”
Sincero’s hopes of a Stradbroke upset were further boosted by the weather forecast in Queensland.
With rain set to move in and develop on Saturday, predictions are for a wet Stradbroke Handicap Day and Farley believes on soft ground Sincero will take some beating.
Three starts back Sincero thrived on a bog track at Gosford on April 25, beating home Happy Patrick by an easy five lengths in the Listed Gosford Guineas (1200m) in Heavy (10) conditions.
Another thing Farley is hoping for is for Sincero to draw a little out from the rails for the Stradbroke Handicap, the inside draw in the QTC Cup having done the horse no favours.
“He definitely needs a bit of room,” Farley said.
“It will be good if he draws out a bit.
“He’s very surprising this horse…he takes a great big stride.
“He winds up into his momentum and can’t be ridden stop, start.”
The 2011 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap final field and barrier draw will be announced later this morning.