Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
A nice piece of work at home in New Zealand for Kiwi youngster Xtravagant has connections looking forward to a trip to Brisbane for a shot at Queensland’s richest race, the Stradbroke Handicap 2016, this winter.
Prepared by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, Pentire colt Xtravagant has won five of his nine career starts to date including the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m) by a runaway eight and a half lengths last November.
After another elite level win in mid-February’s Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) the New Zealander travelled to Australia for the first time for a shot at the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) over the Flemington mile on March 5.
He only managed to finish four and a half lengths away eighth in a midfield finish behind the winner Palentino however.
This week Xtravagant returned to fast work rolling over the 1000m at Matamata on Tuesday morning in a smart 1:16.4.
His final 600m sectional was completed in 44.8 seconds and he is down to gallop again between races Wednesday week at Te Aroha.
The horse’s co-trainers are now eyeing a first-up run on April 30 at Te Rapa in the Group 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) before he returns down under for a second time.
Targeting the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival features, the rising four-year-old is likely to run in the $750,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28.
From there the classic $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at the recently upgraded Eagle Farm Racecourse on June 11 could be on the agenda.
Pre-nomination Stradbroke Handicap betting is already open at Ladbrokes.com.au and has Xtravagant listed as an $11 shot, equal with Matthew Dale’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) runner-up to Chautauqua on April 2 at Randwick Fell Swoop.
The all-in Stradbroke Handicap odds are currently led by the in-form Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Malaguerra ($4.50) and Ciaron Maher’s Group 1 winning mare Azkadellia ($5).
Malaguerra is a dual nominee at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney this Saturday including in the $600,000 Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) after his Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) win at Rosehill on March 26.
Azkadellia meanwhile saluted for the punters on the quick back-up last weekend, returning just seven days after her Doncaster Mile third behind Winx to win the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) by an easy two lengths.
Also identified as an early Stradbroke Handicap prospect this coming winter is the Kris Lees-trained Le Romain, winner of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) last month.
The Hard Spun three-year-old failed to impress over further when seventh to Tarzino next run in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and will be kept to shorter distance targets including the Stradbroke next time in.
The horse is set to head into the Stradbroke Handicap via a first-up Brisbane run in the $135,000 Listed Queensland Day Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on May 28.
“He’s had a break and he’s back on the water walker now,” Lees told The Courier-Mail this week.
“The plan would be to run in the (Queensland Day Stakes) 1200m three-year-old race a fortnight before, and go into the Stradbroke second-up.”
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