John Sadler’s in-form grey stayer Linton confirmed their potential as a serious Stradbroke Handicap 2013 contender for Brisbane on Saturday week thriving in their final trial before their shot at Queensland’s richest race.
The former Robert Hickmott-trained Galileo six-year-old, a multiple elite level performer boasting three Group 1 minor place finishes to date, is set to make their sunshine state debut on June 8 taking on a crack field in the $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse.
Linton earned their Stradbroke Handicap first declaration winning two of their three races this time in.
They further boosted Sadler’s confidence this morning with their nice second behind Newmarket Handicap winner Shamexpress from the Danny O’Brien stables, now bound for Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand Stakes, in their 800m Flemington trial.
After being far from disgraced first-up when fifth to wonder mare Black Caviar in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley, Linton entered the winners’ stall for the fifth time when taking out a Listed 1400m handicap at Morphettville Parks in April in a gallant effort carrying a massive 62kg.
They relished the drop back to 56.5kg next start then when successfully defending their title in Adelaide’s Group 3 RA Lee Stakes (1600m) on May 11.
It will be a month between runs then for the million dollar earner when they contest the Stradbroke, Sadler keeping them fit with their Friday morning hit out this week.
“It’ll be four weeks between runs, so he needed a good hit out, which he got,” Sadler said.
“It was a good hit out ahead of a Group 1.
“I was interested in what the jockey (Nick Hall) had to say and he was very pleased the effort.”
Current Stradbroke Handicap betting markets have Doomben 10,000 winner Epaulette at the top of the markets paying $5 followed closely by the star local hope Better Than Ready and former favourite Your Song both at $6.
Linton meanwhile is rated a $26 chance in the Stradbroke Handicap odds, guaranteed a start sitting ninth on the ballot with a manageable weight allocation of 54.5kg and the right condition, for a change according to Sadler.
“He’s doing extremely, which is strange for this horse,” Sadler said.
“Normally you’re flat out keeping condition on him.
“But this time in he’s been terrific. The further in he’s getting, the better he’s getting.”
The line-up of the likely Stradbroke Handicap field will undergo a shake-up this Saturday with two Queensland Oaks Day races offering a ballot exemption to the winner for the Group 1.
A host of runners are still outside those top 18 spots on the Straddie ballot and will be vying for that exemption in either the Queensland Guineas or the QTC Cup meaning it’s worth keeping an eye on that action as a guide to your Stradbroke bets.
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