Lightly raced four year old The Virginian can earn himself a second start in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 10 if he can perform up to expectation at Doomben on Saturday.
The Virginian is rated an $8 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au in an open market for the Listed $100,000 IPG Connect Chief De Beers (1050m) and will be having his first run back following an unsuccessful Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign.
The Toby Edmonds trained The Virginian was a surprise third at long odds at his third race start behind Under the Lourve and Black Heart Bart in last year’s Stradbroke Handicap which earned him a trip to Melbourne where he ran sixth in the Listed $120,000 Fight Cancer Foundation Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m) followed by another sixth in the Listed $120,000 Paris Lane Handicap (1400m) at Flemington.
Edmonds admits that The Virginian is a bit behind in his Winter Carnival preparation but a good effort on Saturday will see him run in a fortnight and hopefully find a place in the Stradbroke Handicap field.
“The Virginian was a little bit lethargic in the early part of his prep but we took him to Deagon and gave him a good trial where he was dominant and won well on a very affected track,” Edmonds told racing.com.
“We’re going to try to get him there (Stradbroke Handicap) but we are a bit behind the eight ball so we’ll run him on Saturday and then again in two weeks before he backs up in the Stradbroke hopefully.”
The Virginian wrapped up his preparation with a win in a 1050m Deagon barrier trial on May 9 with Doomben 10,000 winning jockey Jim Byrne to ride on Saturday.
Edmonds will also saddle up Prompt Return who is the $4.80 favourite for the Chief De Beers.
Prompt Return has a fitness advantage over his stablemate and is coming off a first up win in the $75,000 Bat Out Of Hell (900m) at the Gold Coast on May 6 with Jeff Lloyd in the saddle again.
“He (Prompt Return) is probably the sharper 1000m horse and he was good here the other day when he ran sensational time,” Edmonds said.