Kiwi raider El Roca may have come through his returning run in good order but co-trainer Trent Busuttin said the more likely target for the stallion was Saturday week’s QTC Cup over the 2015 Doomben 10,000 this Saturday.
A lightly-raced Fastnet Rock four-year-old, El Roca was in top form last autumn in Sydney running second to Dissident in the Randwick Guineas and third to Gordon Lord Byron in the George Ryder Stakes before a disappointing ninth to Sacred Falls in the Doncaster Mile run in the wet.
He had over a year off from racing but returned with a first-up run back in Australia racing in last Saturday’s Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben Racecourse.
El Roca failed to really make an impression in the sprint clash with jockey Hugh Bowman guiding him to a distant 11th behind upset winner Hot Snitzel when beaten over 10 lengths.
On Tuesday morning the horse was put through his paces in a solid piece of work and pulled up well according to Busuttin who spoke to the NZ Racing Desk.
Despite that El Roca remains an unlikely runner back at Doomben on Saturday in the $750,000 Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10,000 (1350m) with Busuttin and co-trainer Natalie Young more likely to save him for a shot at the $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1200m) on Queensland Oaks Day, May 30.
“He galloped really well this morning and Natalie rode him and she was very happy,” Busuttin said.
“He’s scoped all clear and the horse has improved a lot.”
There is also a chance the stable will put him on the short back-up out of the QTC Cup into Queensland’s richest race, the $2 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) on June 6.
“He’s back on track and the smarter thing to do with him is to wait and go to the 1200 metre race (instead of the 10,000),” Busuttin added.
“If he runs well then we can back him up in the Stradbroke.”
Futures Stradbroke Handicap odds are already open online at Ladbrokes.com.au and led by the Ciaron Maher-trained mare Srikandi ($8) and Black Heart Bart ($9).
Third in last year’s Stradbroke Handicap, Dubai four-year-old Srikandi won the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) first-up at the Gold Coast last month before her flat eighth in the BTC Cup she’s tipped to improve on in Saturday’s Doomben 10,000.
Black Heart Bart meanwhile is a Vaughn Sigley-trained Perth galloper who won four straight back in WA before his fourth in Adelaide’s Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) last Saturday, the Blackfriars gelding beaten under two lengths in his maiden eastern state assignment.
El Roca can be found further down the all-in Stradbroke Handicap betting markets at $26, a price sure to firm if he can win the QTC Cup next start, a race that last produced a Stradbroke winner with Sincero (2011).
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