Stradbroke Handicap hopeful Sacred Star has opened favourite for the 2014 QTC Cup this weekend, a win in which will help them secure a start in the Group 1 back at the track Saturday week.
Formerly prepared in Sydney by Chris Waller, the now four-year-old Flying Spur gelding currently trains in New Zealand with top horseman Tony Pike.
They are one of 14 hopefuls in the field for this Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Magic Millions QTC Cup (1300m) that rounds out the Queensland Oaks Day races at 4:20pm.
QTC Cup betting is pretty open this year with five single figure chances led by Pike’s runner at a current quote of $4.
Sacred Star is after the win to help move them up from their current 28th position in the order of entry for the $1.36 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) into the top 18 for the June 7 classic.
They haven’t raced on Aussie soil since a Rosehill win in November of 2012 for their last start under Waller’s preparation.
Their recent Kiwi form through the summer was good though including a third to A Touch Of Ruby in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) and a last start second, beaten just a long neck, in the Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 8.
They sharpened up for their QTC Cup bid on May 13 at Doomben with an easy 840m trial win, Pike hoping that residual fitness gets them through on the weekend.
The others under $10 in QTC Cup betting are then:
- #1 Hot Snitzel ($6.50) – Non-acceptor for the Stradbroke this week after failing in their two Group 1 Brisbane wins this time in but this is an easier assignment for Gerald Ryan’s Snitzel five-year-old and form barrier two have chance to return to their Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes winning form from April in Sydney even with the 59kg topweight
- #7 Bennetta ($6.50) – Grahame Begg-trained mare gets in on 53kg which is a notable ease-up on the 57kg they carried to victory when sixth in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) last start, a race that produced Rebel Dane (5th) who is co-favourite for the Stradbroke Handicap now
- #12 Masthead ($7) – Also on the minimum weight is Chris Waller’s Written Tycoon gelding Masthead racing here on the back of two good Sydney runs, most recently finishing fourth in the Luskin Star at Scone on May 17, this is a step back up in class but should improve having spent the past two years racing in Singapore
- #3 Dances On Stars ($9) – Ryan’s other hope in the race, Snitzel four-year-old won the Listed Prime Minister’s Cup at the Gold Coast two back before their fourth to Straddie-bound River Lad in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben, carry 56.5kg from barrier three and form is there to ignore
Just outside the top fancies is then a number of other genuine hopes including the local Tony Gollan-trained Alma’s Fury ($10) looking for a form reversal after finishing eighth in the Canberra Cup in March and Doubtfilly ($15) with the inside alley for Sunshine Coast horseman Stuart Kendrick.
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