Ciaron Maher is happy with the final serious gallop from his 2016 Stradbroke Handicap favourite Azkadellia ahead of his attempt at back-to-back wins in Queensland’s richest race.
Last Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival the Caulfield-based Maher won the Stradbroke with classy mare Srikandi (2015).
He returns with another top mare this Saturday, his in-form Shinko King four-year-old Azkadellia to jump favourite in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse.
She had a fast gallop at the recently upgraded course on Tuesday morning and impressed Maher without breaking the clock in her final lead-up into the handicap classic.
“She worked well and I was happy with her,” Maher told Racing Victoria.
“She was just going out for a nice blow and there was a nice bit of give in the track that suited her.
“She pulled up well and it’s onto Saturday.”
Azkadellia ran second in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) and third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) earlier in the autumn in Sydney before scoring her own top level victory at Randwick on April 9 in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).
She debuted in Brisbane on May 28 in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) finishing under a length away second to Music Magnate in a race Srikandi placed sixth in before her Stradbroke success 12 months ago.
Post-Stradbroke Azkadellia, who has already won close to $1.5 million in prize money, is paddock-bound ahead of a spring return.
She will either stay in Australia targeting the iconic weight-for-age Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in Melbourne or head overseas for the Breeder’s Cup series in the US.
Azkadellia pays $4 in the latest Stradbroke Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and is followed closely in the markets by Darren Weir’s last start The Goodwood winner in Adelaide Black Heart Bart ($5).
Her last start conqueror Music Magnate meanwhile is at $10 in pre-field Stradbroke Handicap betting, the Bjorn Baker-trained Doomben 10,000 winning Written Tycoon four-year-old undefeated over Saturday’s distance.
A three-time winner over the 1400m from as many starts, the smart stallion was kept at the Gold Coast this week with Baker opting not to give him an earlier look at the new course proper at Eagle Farm.
“I’ve been up here (at the Gold Coast) since the weekend, he looks great, he has held his condition well,” Baker said.
“He is a big tough horse, he was third-up into that so he had a good fitness base so I think he came out pretty well, hopefully fourth-up he is even a little better than he was the other day.”
Kerrin McEvoy, who rode Srikandi to victory in the Stradbroke last year for Maher, stays aboard Music Magnate on Saturday aiming for another win in the feature.
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