The bookmakers have surprised trainer Ciaron Maher by installing his 2016 Stradbroke Handicap-bound mare Azkadellia at the top of Doomben 10,000 betting in a fortnight at a track he is unsure she will handle well.
The four-year-old daughter of Shinko King is one of 54 official entries for Saturday week’s $750,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m), first acceptances for the weight-for-age classic set to close this Wednesday.
Last start winner of Sydney’s Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 9 during ‘The Championships’, the $1.33 million earner’s major assignment isn’t until the following month however.
The flying mare hasn’t finished outside the top three in her 10 latest runs dating back to September last year.
Leading up to her Queen Of The Turf Stakes success she placed in two other Group 1 races when runner-up to the ill-fated Peeping, who sadly passed away from colic this week, in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) before a third to superstar Winx in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
That gun form has the bookies wary of Azkadellia in her Doomben debut on May 28 and she sits top of the pre-field Doomben 10,000 odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.80 for the win.
She also leads futures betting for the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 11 at a current quote of $4.40, above event last weekend’s BTC Cup winner Malaguerra ($9).
The Caulfield-based Maher won last year’s Stradbroke Handicap with Srikandi (2015) when Queensland’s richest race ran at Doomben Racecourse over 1350m.
He is hoping to secure back-to-back wins as a trainer for the first time since Con Karakatsanis with dual champ Black Piranha (2009-10) and believes the roomier Eagle Farm track will be perfect for Azkadellia.
Weir has seriously doubts however about her Doomben 10,000 chances on the notoriously tight track and is surprised by her favouritism in the markets.
“I’m surprised she is favourite to be honest,” Maher told Racing Victoria on Sunday.
“Doomben isn’t a track that I’d think will best suit her racing pattern.
“She is going to be back towards the tail of the field and they don’t seem to be making up too much ground.
“I’d imagine she is going to be much better suited to Eagle Farm for the Stradbroke.”
Her Doomben 10,000 opponents however seem to be dropping away including current $7 second favourite in betting Black Heart Bart who is set to contest the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide this Saturday.
There is also a chance the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained BTC Cup winner Malaguerra will head straight to next month’s Stradbroke Handicap without another lead-up.
As for a Doomben 10,000 jockey for Azkadellia, Maher said Nicholas Hall is the most likely option with Damien Oliver out on suspension.
“I think I’ll go with a Melbourne based jockey, possibly Nick Hall,” he said.
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