Chris Waller has scratched one of his three BTC Cup 2016 hopefuls from the opening Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival Group 1 with Counterattack out of the sprint due to a wide barrier draw.
The weight-for-age $500,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) originally attracted 14 final acceptors, but Waller’s withdrawal of smart Redoute’s Choice colt Counterattack (11) leaves 13 in the mix.
Waller still saddles-up his Darley Classic winning four-year-old Delectation from out wide (12 into 11), while stablemate Japonisme will get the run of the race from gate three.
Winner of the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) in the spring, three-year-old Choisir gelding Japonisme has been in strong form again this campaign including his Group 2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (1200m) win on April 9.
Brought on since with a winning Randwick trial at the start of the month, Japonisme is firming favourite in BTC Cup betting through Ladbrokes.com.au in from $4.40 to $3.50 to join Your Song (2013) as the most recent three-year-old winners of the classic.
The money has been strong for Japonisme who has knocked off Matthew Dale’s Victory Stakes winner Fell Swoop ($4.60) from the top of the BTC Cup odds, and Waller said there is a strong case to be made for his youngster.
“Japonisme is proven at Group One level and is back in form with a good win last start,” Waller told AAP.
“He has drawn perfectly in gate three so that is in his favour.”
The last BTC Cup winner to jump from a double-digit gate was Spark Of Life (13 of 15 in 2005), and Waller said that would be the test for his Shamardal gelding Delectation ($14) who is out to improve on a last start seventh to Chautauqua in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in Sydney.
“Delectation has drawn awkwardly,” Waller admitted.
“I feel he is more of a Doomben 10,000 horse. He seems to have lost a bit of speed over shorter distances but that may be exaggerated by him not settling as well as he should.”
As for Counterattack, who was last seen finishing second to Japonisme in the Arrowfield, Waller is still keen to target the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) with him at Eagle Farm on June 11.
“I want to get Counterattack to the Stradbroke and whether this is the right race for him is a question,” he said of the BTC Cup before the horse’s official scratching.
“He is a lightly raced horse destined for Group Ones but he might be a season away.”
Also 2016 Stradbroke Handicap-bound but needing to turn up with a big BTC Cup run today is four-year-old Malaguerra, Lee & Anthony Freedman’s galloper the $6.50 third favourite for this afternoon’s race.
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