Australia’s leading Group 1 jockey Hugh Bowman will try to add to his Group 1 tally when he partners Malaguerra in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Bowman has already ridden ten Group 1 winners for the current season, which is already one more that he rode in the 2014 – 2015 season and has only recently returned from a successful short riding stint in Japan.
The Lee and Anthony Freedman trained Malaguerra is rated a $7 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au and put himself into contention for the Brisbane Winter Carnival glamour sprint with a win in the Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 14.
The four year old sprinter made it four wins on the trot with a victory in the Group 3 $150,000 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 26 and co-trainer Lee Freedman immediately set him for the Stradbroke Handicap.
Malaguerra then blotted his copy book with a disappointing sixth to English in the Group 1 $600,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 16, but Lee Freedman, who trains in partnership with his brother Anthony, never lost faith and headed north to Brisbane for the Winter Carnival.
The improving sprinter rewarded the Freedmans for their faith and Malaguerra went on to score a gutsy win with Brisbane jockey Glen Colless in the saddle in the Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 14, securing him a spot in the Stradbroke Handicap.
Malaguerra was allocated 56kg for the Stradbroke Handicap and even though Lee Freedman would have liked less, he is happy that the four year old year will go into the race with Group 1 winning form behind him.
“It would have been nice to have a couple of kilos less but we wanted to be sure he would get into the race,” Freedman told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He is the first horse for the owner, Bruno Micalizzi,and he is having the time of his life. We took the approach if he gets there with a bit more weight, it would be because he has won a few races and would have been handsomely rewarded.”
“I guess if you look at the 56 in relation to weight-for-age he has got three kilos less than his last win, so you could argue he is well in.”
Malaguerra shares the $7 line with the Chris Waller trained Counterattack who only has to carry 52.5kg in the Stradbroke Handicap and ran himself into contention with an impressive win in the Group 3 $125,000 Sky Racing Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 23.
Queen Of The Turf winner Azkadellia heads the market order at $4, just ahead of The Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart at $5 with Doomben 10000 winner Music Magnate also under double figures at $9.
Early market order for the Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Azkadellia, $5 Black Heart Bart, $7 Counterattack, Malaguerra, $9 Music Magnate, $11 Under The Louvre, $13 Kaepernick, Delectation, $17 Takedown, $21 Artlee, Hooked, $26 Charlie Boy, $34 Precious Gem, $41 Sacred Star, Charmed Harmony, $51 Big Money, Too Good To Refuse, $67 Trubia, Two Blue, $101 Traveston Girl, Echo Gal, The Virginian.