Sydney’s best horseman Chris Waller believes a single-figure draw after horror gates at recent starts puts Strawberry Boy in the frame for an upset 2015 Crystal Mile win at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday.
A field of 12 line-up in Moonee Valley Race 8 on Cox Plate Day when the weight-for-age $200,000 Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) jumps at 4:50pm (AEST) on the 10-race program.
Leading the Crystal Mile odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, where punters can access Best Tote or SP + 20% markets on the full Moonee Valley line-up on Saturday, paying a short $2.25 for the win is Darren Weir’s last start Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) winner Lucky Hussler.
One of two in the field for Waller along with last start black-type winning Al Maher gelding on Caulfield Guineas Day Amovatio ($11) in the outside alley for jockey Damien Oliver to overcome, Strawberry Boy is only rated a $19 chance in Crystal Mile betting.
Waller though believes the seven-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice is over the odds, especially as he has won four of his seven previous starts at the mile.
His last two starts over 1600m were in Brisbane during the winter when taking out the Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup – Listed Wayne Wilson Stakes double at Doomben.
This time in he has had three starts including a smart second-up fourth crossing only 0.6 lengths off the winner Stratum Star in Caulfield’s Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) in late September.
He did it tough from barrier 14 of 18 in that run and was brave in defeat, also drawing wide last time out in the Toorak Handicap a fortnight ago when jumping from a nasty gate 16 of 17 draw.
Veteran hoop Jim Cassidy, who retains the ride for the fourth time on the trot in Saturday’s Crystal Mile, did his best in the Toorak on Strawberry Boy from the barrier but could only manage to cross four and a half lengths off the winner in eighth.
This weekend Strawberry Boy gets the chance to turn the tables on his last start conqueror Lucky Hussler and score an upset Crystal Mile result.
Lucky Hussler had 58kg in the Toorak and jumped from barrier four.
On Saturday Glen Boss rides the top fancy on 59kg from gate three and the horse looks very hard to beat.
Strawberry Boy though cannot be discounted according to Waller, the miler set to appreciate barrier six.
“He had no luck with the barriers at his last two starts and it took its toll in the Toorak,” Waller said.
“He’ll definitely appreciate the single figure draw on Saturday.
“He meets Lucky Hussler a bit worse at the weights under weight-for-age conditions but I think he looks well placed.”
It is the first look around the notoriously tight Moonee Valley circuit for Strawberry Boy, but that also doesn’t faze his trainer who believes the track will suit his racing style.
“He’s a Moonee Valley type of horse who will roll along freely and the plan will be to get them chasing,” he said.
As for the better fancied of his two according to the bookies, Amovatio has the right lead-up form but not the right barrier as he heads towards a run in the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 7 on the last meeting of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“He’s come on very well from that first-up win,” Waller said.
“Unfortunately, he’s drawn 12 of 12 but he’s in terrific form and seems to still be improving.
“If he can run well Saturday then we will look at backing him up in the Emirates. It’s a million dollar race and is seems silly not to run if he’s fit and well.
“We can wait for a week to go to Perth (for the Railway Stakes at Ascot on November 21) when there is a million dollar race in your back yard.”
To get behind Waller’s Crystal Mile contingent at Moonee Valley on Saturday and lock in Best Tote or SP + 20% on all your Cox Plate Day selections visit Ladbrokes.com.au now!