One of Brisbane’s premier horseman, Eagle Farm-based trainer Barry Baldwin believes Mr Light Blue in the Queensland Derby isn’t his only chance at Stradbroke Handicap Day tomorrow.
Barry will be out in force at his home track on Saturday, saddling up six from his stables.
Aside from his progressive three-year-old Mr Light Blue tackling the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) as a $21 roughie, Baldwin has high hopes for a number of his other Stradbroke Day starters.
First up for him is triple-pronged attack in the $100,000 Listed Lancaster Stakes (1200m).
Another horror barrier draw hampers the chances of one of his promising two-year-olds in the race, $16 shot Saraji coming up with 23.
Hidden Dragon filly Saraji comes off an impressive five length win at the Sunshine Coast from May 22, but faces a much tougher test from her gate on Saturday as she attempts to keep her record at Eagle Farm intact having won her only other start at there back in April.
Baldwin’s two other Lancaster hopefuls are Belle D’Amour, a Chris Munce mount in barrier seven, and the lightly-raced Settheworldonfire in gate 10.
Belle D’Amour is the best supported of the three stablemates in the opening Stradbroke Handicap Day feature as the $4.80 second favourite behind Lucky Morna ($4.20).
Meanwhile, Settheworldonfire is also rated a $16 chance along with Saraji.
Well-bred Jet Spur filly Belle D’Amour caught the attention of a few with her eye-catching run in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) last start at Doomben on May 21.
“That was a great run,” Baldwin said of Belle D’Amour’s sixth behind Free Wheeling.
“She got back in the field…and had to come late in the race.
“She too has been claimed by bad barriers.”
Belle D’Amour has started from barriers 14 and 11 respectively at her two most recent runs, still managing to come within half a length when third to Amber’s Crown in a 1100m 2YO Plate at Ipswich before her Champagne Classic run, beaten just two and a half lengths.
Baldwin is hoping her better starting position tomorrow will give her a fighting chance.
“I’m sure she can measure up to them,” he said.
“We’ve had a few little minor issues (with Belle D’Amour), which we won’t go into, but all in all she’s very fit now.
“She hasn’t got a great deal of pace, so hopefully with a decent barrier she’s a chance.”
Meanwhile, Baldwin’s Artie Schiller filly Settheworldonfire will be having just her second career start after a debut win by an easy four lengths at Eagle Farm back on New Year’s Day.
That debut run was made on Slow ground and Baldwin was impressed with the time that she managed in the conditions.
“On a wet track she ran a credible time,” he said.
She was well-supported in her first career run and won by a decent margin before being spelled for much longer than connections had hoped.
“She was a bit unfortunate,” Baldwin said.
“She got a real bad cold which delayed her preparation.
“It took a long time to get her right.
“She’s only a light little thing but I do believe that she’s got a bit of ability.
“She has got a lot of barrier speed and she should be up there in the leading bunch.”
Although having been out of the action for quite a time, Baldwin is confident Settheworldonfire will be fit enough for a good run tomorrow.
“She won a jumpout since she’s come back,” he said.
“She’s just lacking a little bit of experience.”
Of his trio Baldwin believes it could be Belle D’Amour’s race experience that gives her the edge.
“Belle has had more starts, but three chances is better than two and two’s better than one.”
The other big race on the Stradbroke Handicap Day programme for Baldwin will be the final showdown, the $250,000 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m).
Baldwin will be represented by both Havatryst (barrier nine) and Demanding Miss (barrier 22) in the three-year-olds feature.
Commands filly Demanding Miss has been well out of form this preparation, not having won since a victory over 1615m at Doomben back in February.
Most recently she finished well back in the Group 3 The Roses (2020m) on May 21, when ninth to subsequent Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady.
Baldwin is non-surprised by the long $81 odds on Demanding Miss for the Guineas tomorrow, backing Foreplay gelding Havatryst ($9) as his genuine hope in the race.
“The horse is still learning, he’s done a few things wrong but hopefully he’s right,” Baldwin said.
Due to be ridden by ace hoop Shane Scriven, Havatryst comes into the Queensland Guineas on the back of a very close second to Steps In Time in the Listed Daybreak Lover Plate (1400m) at Eagle Farm last weekend.
Defeated by just a neck after jumping from barrier 12, Havatryst ran the ideal Guineas trial and Baldwin’s only concern is backing the horse up a week later for the first time.
“He’s never backed up within a week before,” Baldwin admitted.
“In the new, condensed (Brisbane Winter) Carnival when they’ve pushed the races together there are a few in the same boat.
“He still hasn’t learnt to race properly or settle back in the field.
“He’s still learning, with is the only thing that makes you hesitate.”
One thing Baldwin isn’t concerned with is Havatryst’s ability to get to the mile tomorrow.
“No question at all on the mother’s side (Groom Dancer mare Conjugality), who run two miles very stoutly,” he said in regards to Havatryst’s breeding as a stayer.
“On the horse himself, if he learns to relax, then there’s no trouble with the mile.
“It’s the quick back-up that is the concern.”