Mick Price’s emerging colt Al Aneed has joined the strong group of three-year-olds being aimed at next month’s $1.36 million Group 1 2013 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Queensland’s top colts Sizzling and Better Than Ready were already confirmed as having the Stradbroke on their radar but Al Aneed flew right into contention with a strong Gold Coast Guineas second on Saturday.
The horse who beat him, Darley’s Academus, is also entered for the winter’s most lucrative race.
Al Aneed, by top sire More Than Ready, was running for the first time since January in his Gold Coast hit-out and he caught the eye when flashing late down the outside.
The performance was enough to convince Price and jockey Larry Cassidy that he has what it takes to cut it on the winter’ biggest stage.
“Larry Cassidy got off and said had he got a clear run after turning he’d probably have won, so he’s come back very well,”Price told TVN.
“The owner is keen to try and get a Group 1 on him as a three-year-old so we’ll try and get to the Stradbroke with him.”
Al Aneed is currently a $26 favourite in the Stradbroke Handicap South Australian Derby Odds market.
Heading the three-year-old contingent in betting is the Kelly Schweida-trained Better Than Ready ($13) who will vie for Group 1 glory in the BTC Cup at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Newmarket Handicap fifth placgetter was a strong first-up winner in the Listed Mick Dittman Plate but faces a far tougher assignment this weekend against the likes of Buffering and Sea Siren.
“Weight-for-age doesn’t really suit us, there isn’t much of a weight difference to Buffering. But there will be a big weight turnaround come Stradbroke Day where Better Than Ready won’t have much weight at all,” Jockey Ric McMahon told New Limited.