Champion hoop Michael Rodd has a strong book of four rides at today’s Eagle Farm Stradbroke Handicap Day and the former Melbourne Cup-winning jockey is hoping for a least one winner to beat his Brisbane Winter Carnival blues.
It has been slim pickings at the sunshine state winter festival for Rodd, 29, this year.
He has had just six rides, all unplaced, so far but hopes that will all change today at the state’s leading race day.
“I’d love to be there riding more for the winter,” Rodd admitted on Friday.
“It’s a great carnival and it would get me away from the cold in Melbourne.
“I haven’t been able to get up there as much as I would have liked.
“I ride for Mark Kavanagh and it’s an important time of the year for us as we’re getting a lot of young horses educated for the spring.”
Kicking off the all black-type Stradbroke Handicap meeting this afternoon is the $100,000 Listed Lancaster Stakes (1200m), Rodd engaged to ride Robert Heathcote’s promising young filly Little Miss Vicky.
The Jet Spur filly has won her only other race start to date when defeating a decent field by one and a half lengths at Ipswich on May 13.
Today she is due to jump from an ideal barrier three draw and is installed as a $15 chance, both jockey and trainer hoping Little Miss Vicky can claim an early upset and kick off a day in the winner’s stall.
For his first Group race of the day Rodd will take the mount aboard Graeme Rogerson’s in-form favourite, Shootoff, in the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).
A crack field of three-year-olds are ready to do battle in this year’s Queensland Derby, but Rodd and Rogerson both remain confident Duelled gelding and last-start Doomben Cup fourth placegetter Shootoff can salute for the punters.
It is Shootoff that Rodd rates as his best chance of success today, the jockey going for his second Queensland Derby win having been aboard last year’s winner Dariana.
Dariana was the third elite level for the to date 22-times Group 1 winning hoop in Queensland, Rodd having also ridden 2002 Brisbane Cup winner Prized Gem and 2003 Doomben Cup champion Bush Padre.
Shootoff is also the horse that has given Rodd is closest to a Brisbane Winter placing this carnival, the hoop aboard for the fourth behind Scenic Shot in the Doomben Cup.
The Doomben Cup on May 21 was Shootoff’s final Queensland Derby lead-up and the gap between runs is the only worry for Rodd aboard Shootoff today.
“Three weeks between runs is my only worry with him but Graeme Rogerson knows how to train a big-race winner,” Rodd said.
“His form is great and I’m confident he can win.”
Following the Derby is Rodd’s ride aboard one of the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) sentimental favourites, the Tracey Bartley-trained Sniper’s Bullet.
A rising eight-year-old, the gallant old Sniper’s Bullet most recently ran a credible fifth behind Beaded in the Doomben 10,000 and Bartley is hoping for a big, gun run from her warhorse today.
Lining up in a Stradbroke Handicap field for the fourth time in his career, Sniper’s Bullet won the prestigious feature back in 2007 but failed in both 2009 when dead last and 2008 when 12th behind Mr Baritone.
Rounding out Stradbroke Day for Rodd is his ride aboard the Tony Vasil-trained Under The Eiffel in the $250,000 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m).
One-time favourite for the autumn’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1400m), a race the Mossman three-year-old eventually finished fifth behind Shamrocker in, Under The Eiffel has been disappointing in his two Brisbane starts this carnival most recently running 12th to Steps In Time in the Listed Daybreak Lover Plate (1400m) last Saturday.