A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
Trainer Peter Gelagotis said Thursday morning he thinks two-time Group 1 winner Malaguerra is ready to roll ahead of Saturday’s $1 million Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth.
The seven-year old will don the blinkers after running a disappointing 12th first-up at Moonee Valley in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes earlier in October, a move Gelagotis hopes will calm the veteran’s nerves.
Saturday will mark Malaguerrea’s second start in over a year, but Gelagotis told RSN on Thursday that this time around his horse has ticked all the boxes.
“My gut feeling, I think the horse is in pristine order and got plenty to give still as a seven-year old.
“We’ve put a set of shades on him, we’ve worked him a couple times in them, it didn’t bother him, if anything it’s just made him sharper. He galloped the other morning, they idled quietly to the 400m mark, and when they quickened up he was right on the bunny, right on the pull.”
Jockey Ben Melham will saddle Malaguerra in the Winterbottom for the second time this weekend. Melham said on Thursday the pair have “unfinished business” after running fifth in the Group 1 feature in 2016, but this time around, the barrier draw looks to be in their favour.
“I think we’ve drawn an exceptionally good barrier this time for a change, and the horse is going to get every possible opportunity to do his best” Gelagotis went on to say.
Malaguerra has drawn barrier 7 this weekend and is currently at $8.50 odds with Ladbrokes.
Melham told RSN earlier in the week that he thinks the blinkers adds “two lengths” to Malaguerra, while Gelagotis hopes lengthy spells and plenty of rest will give him an advantage over the rest of the field.
“I think with the extended breaks that he’s had, the horse has done exceptionally well with that time off. In my opinion his actions have been the best it’s ever been, the horse looks the strongest and most robust he’s ever looked, hence the good time off he’s had. Those Spring and Autumn horses don’t get much time to rejuvenate.”
Full 2018 Winterbottom Stakes odds can be seen below.
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