Young Melbourne trainer Ciaron Maher is eyeing a possible trip to Queensland to target the winter’s Stradbroke Handicap with gun mare Azkadellia after her class win in the 2016 Queen Of The Turf Stakes at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of ‘The Championships’.
The four-year-old daughter of Shinko King jumped the short priced favourite in this year’s $1 million Group 1 The Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m), formerly the Queen Of The Turf Stakes, after gun lead-up form all autumn.
After two good runs at home at Caulfield in February including the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) victory, Azkadellia went to Sydney on March 12 and ran a half-length second to Peeping in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m).
She raced again last weekend and just came up against too good a mare in Winx when a brave third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
On the quick back-up and against a field of fellow fillies and mares seven days late, Azkadellia went up from 50kg in the Doncaster Handicap to 57kg at weight-for-age in the Queen Of The Turf.
The weight proved a non-issue for her however as she and jockey Damien Oliver, who celebrated his first win in the mile classic, saluted for the punters in Sydney.
“She’s a little ripper this one,” Oliver said post-win.
“I never get sick of riding these ones.
“She was very happy not to see Winx in front of her and she picked up really good.”
Vergara used her inside run on the rails to take up the lead quickly after the jump from the filly Badawiya while Suavito went forward from her wide draw to settle into third just ahead of Noble Protector and the Emancipation Stakes winner last start Zanbagh.
Azkadelia was giving them a big lead settled one of the fence third and then fourth last as the Anthony Cummings-trained Vergara, fourth in the Doncaster last weekend, led the field into the turn for home.
The Mick Price-trained Badawiya was ridden quietly in second still closing the margin while Azkadellia started to make headway down the straight.
Over the final few hundred metres Oliver rode the favourite hard along the rails, Azkadellia ($2.80) picking up strongly to hit the lead and the line first just ahead of Tim Martin’s super consistent Street Cry four-year-old Heavens Above ($13) who continued her good association at Randwick.
In third to finish off the Queen Of The Turf Stakes trifecta was Noble Protector ($15), Robert Smerdon’s Haafhd six-year-old coming off the Moonee Valley second in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m).
“She loves that ground,” Oliver said of Azkadellia who thrived with the give out of the track.
“She peels off some great sectionals.”
As for plans to take her to Brisbane for a shot at the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse on June 11, Oliver said he “wouldn’t be talking them (connections) out of that.”
Maher won last year’s Stradbroke Handicap during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival with fellow mare Srikandi, and was keen to attempt back-to-back wins this season.
“I’ve always been thinking the Stradbroke with her,” he said.
“It’ll be interesting to see what weight she’s going to get now.
“She’ll have a freshen-up now but the horses seem to thrive up there (in Queensland).
“She’s very fit and we’ll just freshen her up and make a plan on the back of that.”
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2016 Queen Of The Turf Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 8 – 09/04/2016
|1||3||AZKADELLIA (NZ)||Ciaron Maher||Damien Oliver||–||8||57kg||$2.80F|
|2||12||HEAVENS ABOVE||Tim Martin||Tye Angland||2L||3||57kg||$13|
|3||5||NOBLE PROTECTOR (GB)||Robert Smerdon||Craig Williams||3.5L||2||57kg||$13|
|4||13||LADY LE FAY (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||4.4L||9||57kg||$16|
|5||6||ZANBAGH||John P Thompson||Blake Shinn||6.6L||5||57kg||$8.50|
|6||9||VERGARA||Anthony Cummings||Brenton Avdulla||7.6L||1||57kg||$21|
|7||14||BADAWIYA||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||8.3L||15||54.5kg||$10|
|8||8||ARTISTRY||Peter & Paul Snowden||Thomas Huet||8.5L||11||57kg||$21|
|9||4||MISS ROSE DE LAGO||Danny O’Brien||James McDonald||8.7L||7||57kg||$9.50|
|10||11||SLIGHTLY SWEET||Jason Coyle||Jason Collett||9.4L||14||57kg||$31|
|11||1||SUAVITO (NZ)||Nigel Blackiston||Luke Currie||10.1L||12||57kg||$12|
|12||7||CASINO DANCER||Mike Van Gestel||Sam Clipperton||10.2L||6||57kg||$101|
|13||15||PASADENA GIRL (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Kerrin McEvoy||10.5L||13||54.5kg||$51|
|14||16||RISQUE (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damian Lane||10.7L||4||54.5kg||$15|
|15||10||CORONATION SHALLAN||Brett Scott||Daniel Stackhouse||13.3L||10||57kg||$101|
|–||18||ASINARA||John O’Shea||Tim Clark||–||0||–||–|
|–||17||SUPARA||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||–||0||–||–|
|–||2||POLITENESS||Robert Smerdon||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|