She’s a last start stakes winner and one of the top rated Winter Challenge 2014 entries for Saturday’s Rosehill feature but the Gai Waterhouse-trained Queenstown will need to be at her best to handle a notable drop in distance.
The rising five-year-old Stratum mare was last seen blitzing her rivals by a minimum three lengths when winning the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 10.
This weekend she faces a different kind of acid test when racing over just 1500m for the $100,000 Listed Winter Challenge title in Sydney.
Going into the Grafton Cup Queenstown came off a fifth over the Eagle Farm mile in an unusual lead-up that paid off.
Proving she could rise in distance, she now must go the opposite way dropping a hard-to-ignore 850m.
It’s another interesting next-up option from Waterhouse especially as Queenstown has form right up to a mile and a half having run third to Sertorius in the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Caulfield last November.
While there will be plenty of doubters for Saturday Queenstown showed on Tuesday morning she might just have the zip to be competitive.
Having her last major piece of work before the Winter Challenge the versatile mare worked over 1400m recording a final time of 1.34.0.
Her last 600m was run in 36.6 seconds before an impressive final 200m sectional of 11.5 seconds.
That was faster than her final 200m time (11.7) back in May after she worked over 1200m leading up to her first-up third when beaten under a length by Tromso over the 1400m at Rosehill this winter.
Based on that, the bookies are sure to keep her safe in Winter Challenge betting once the final field is released on Wednesday.
Chris Waller dominates the Winter Challenge nominations this year with six of the 11 current entries.
He’s withdrawn Bagman from the mix but still has strong representation from the likes of his recent Randwick mile winner I’m Imposing and French import He’s Your Man coming off a third to Generalife in the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m) at Rosehill from July 5.
Waterhouse also has multiple entries with Danas Best joining Queenstown in the entries.
Danasinga gelding Dandas Best won a trial over 1200m at Randwick on July 18 and will be racing for the first time since mid-February.
During last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival the four-year-old finished three lengths away ninth to Seville in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) and could again work up to elite level this time in.
There’s a chance they will bypass the Winter Challenge however with Waterhouse opting not to gallop them Monday or Tuesday this week indicating they’ll be saved for a later resuming run.
To chart the progress of Waterhouse’s runners this weekend and into the spring stay tuned to Races.com.au.
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