Darren Weir is on fire again this season and is shooting for even more Group 1 success including Queensland’s richest race – the Stradbroke Handicap 2016 – for his progressive colt Rageese.
Over the weekend in Adelaide Weir’s progressive Redoute’s Choice colt Howard Be Thy Name took top honours in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) ahead of a possible shot at next month’s Queensland Derby in Brisbane.
Howard Be Thy Name is now the $8 co-second favourite in early markets at Ladbrokes.com.au to win the $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m), second only to the Chris Waller-trained Mackintosh ($2.80) who won the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) on Saturday at Doomben.
The Queensland Derby is one of three Group 1 races run at Eagle Farm Racecourse on June 11, including also the meeting’s major – the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) that Weir is targeting with fellow three-year-old Rageese.
The in-form son of Street Cry has won his past two on the trot including a massive 4.2 length victory at Morphettville on April 30 in the Listed Nitschke Stakes (1400m).
His last run in Group 1 company was a brave fifth from a wide barrier, 15 of 16, as a $41 roughie in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) over the mile back in October when beaten only 2.55 lengths.
Weir is hoping he has a stronger horse eight months on as he eyes the Stradbroke Handicap, a race he has had two previous starters in without a top three result.
Pre-field Stradbroke Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Ciaron Maher’s smart Group 1 winning mare from Melbourne Azkadellia as the firm $4.40 favourite to hand her trainer back-to-back wins in the Sunshine State classic.
Rageese meanwhile can be down further down the all-in Stradbroke Handicap betting markets at a current quote of $17, a price that will firm should he win his Queensland debut this weekend.
Weir has the youngster entered for the $125,000 Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m) on Doomben Cup Day as a Stradbroke qualifier.
Last year’s winning Stradbroke Handicap jockey on Srikandi (2015), Kerrin McEvoy is booked to ride Rageese in the Fred Best on Saturday as the horse looks to gain exemption from next month’s Group 1 ballot.
McEvoy is thrilled to pick up the ride and said he could also stay on the horse in the Stradbroke Handicap at a light weight should Weir’s up-and-comer make the field.
“He’s been competitive at the top level from an early age and it looks like Darren has him firing again,” McEvoy told Racing Victoria.
“He looks a nice ride for Saturday in what should be a very competitive race.”
The headline Fred Best Classic nominee meanwhile is the Waller-trained Counterattack, scratched from the BTC Cup field last Saturday.
Counterattack was last seen running second to Japonisme, third to Malaguerra in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) as the beaten favourite, in the Group 2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (1200m) in Sydney last month.
On Saturday at Doomben Racecourse he will have Hugh Bowman, back from Japan, aboard for the first time since his seventh to stablemate Press Statement in the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m) last Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
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