Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has confirmed he’ll be accepting for two 2014 Stradbroke Handicap hopes for the weekend with Red Tracer to be joined in the field by Velrosso.
Both are guaranteed a start sitting fifth and 14th respectively on the latest order of entry for Saturday’s $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) running at Eagle Farm Racecourse.
Still officially in the mix for Waller is also Masthead (23rd) who is unlikely to be paid up for despite their promising second to Sacred Star in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) last Saturday, which was their last shot at a ballot exemption for the Stradbroke.
Waller’s best chance of winning his first Stradbroke, he’s had five previous starters in the classic before Saturday, lies in his talented Dane Shadow mare Red Tracer.
The six-year-old currently occupies the fourth line of Stradbroke Handicap betting paying $8.50, markets led by talented filly Srikandi ($4.60) shooting for her sixth win on the trot.
Red Tracer has had a lengthy freshen-up this campaign not having raced since her close third to Diamond Drille in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) where she put in another honest run.
The dual Group 1 champion is after her first win since a first-up effort at Rosehill at the start of March, and her second elite level in Queensland having won last winter’s Tattersall’s Tiara over the same track and distance as the Straddie.
She’s got residual fitness though having won two trials since the Queen of the Turf, most recently over 1030m at Rosehill on May 27 when ridden by Nash Rawiller.
Rawiller retains the ride for Saturday looking to continue his magic run in the Group 1s this season.
“I think in group 1 open company that 1400 metres is her ideal trip without a doubt,” Rawiller told the Bunbury Mail.
“She will go into it fresh and ready to go.”
The hoop has won eight Group 1s, as has Waller, but together the Rawiller-Waller combo have only been successful at the top level once when Red Tracer took out Melbourne’s Myer Classic during the spring.
Red Tracer is currently allocated 55.5kg for the Stradbroke, which will become 56kg when weights are raised at final acceptance stage.
Waller is confident she’s in top condition, and while she will be giving some weight to rivals including the favourite Srikandi who will get in on just 51kg, he rates her a top chance with her allocation.
“I don’t think it is an overly strong Stradbroke and she is well weighted,” he said.
“In particular against those at the bottom of the weights.
“There are a couple around her in the weights which she might struggle to beat, but I think she is a great hope.”
He’s still happy with his decision to step her up in the Stradbroke however as opposed to running her in the Group 2 Dane Ripper on the day which she won last winter.
“She has had such an illustrious career and at this point another Group 1 is more important than winning another Dane Ripper,” Waller said.
After the Stradbroke Handicap Red Tracer is then in line for a title defense in the $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) back at the track on June 21.
Joining Red Tracer in the Stradbroke Handicap field for Waller meanwhile will be Velrosso (52.5kg).
They’re much further down the markets than their stable mate, the General Nediym gelding paying $41 to score an upset.
Their trainer admits the Stradbroke is a tough assignment too, Velrosso last seen running fifth in the Listed Luskin Star Handicap (1300m) at Scone last month.
Waller also has the top fancy lining up in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) with Commands three-year-old Vilanova, and Brazen Beau nearing odds-on territory for the $500,000 Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1400m).
Vilanova is another top ride for Rawiller on the day after the pair combined last start on May 24 to win the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m), while Brazen Beau is looking to atone for their second in the BRC Sires Produce last start.
“I will be happy if we can win one race on a day like that,” Waller said.
“We have a couple of good chances.”
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