Trainer Todd Willan has elected to bypass the Group 2 $175,000 MIRVAC QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday and head straight to the Stradbroke Handicap next week.
The winner of the QTC Cup is exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm and originally Willan was hoping a win on Saturday would cement his spot in the Brisbane Winter Carnival’s feature sprint.
Artlee is on the Stradbroke Handicap limit at number eighteen in the current order of entry and Willan is happy to take the risk of a horse lower than him winning the QTC Cup and leap frogging him in the field.
But on the other hand Willan was not really keen on running the five year old two weeks in a row, so he has decided to leave him at home this weekend.
“I’m happy to take the chance and go there next week having had the right preparation,” Willan told The Courier-Mail.
Artlee’s Winter Carnival form has been mixed with two placings from three starts, starting with a third to Fell Swoop in the Group 2 $200,000 National Fire Industry Association QLD Victory Stakes (1200m) at Doomben April 30.
At his next start the Excellent Art gelding was always well back in field before running home to finish seventh, two and a quarter lengths behind Malaguerra in the Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 14 followed by a third to Snippets Land in the Group 3 $125,000 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben the next week.
Artlee is currently rated a $21 chance for the Stradbroke Handicap in the Ladbrokes.com.au market order that has the Ciaron Maher trained Azkadellia the $4.20 favourite.
Early market order for the Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.20 Azkadellia, $5.50 Black Heart Bart, $7 Counterattack, Malaguerra, $9 Music Magnate, $11 Under The Louvre, $13 Kaepernick, $15 Delectation, Takedown, $21 Artlee, Hooked, $26 Charlie Boy, Precious Gem, Stratum Star, $34 Sacred Star, $41 Charmed Harmony, $51 Federal, $61 Big Money, Trubia, $81 Nostradamus, Traveston Girl, Too Good To Refuse, Two Blue, Star Wondering, $101 Echo Gal, The Virginian.