Trainer Chris Waller is looking for a free entry into the Stradbroke Handicap for last Saturday’s BTC Cup scratching Counterattack when he runs in the Group 3 $125,000 Sky Racing Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday.
The winner of the Fred Best Classic is exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
Counterattack drew a wide barrier in last Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben and Waller decided to keep him and run against the three year olds in the Fred Best Classic.
“He is a Group One horse in the making but whether it’s this season or next, I’m not sure,” Waller told AAP.
“He drew badly in the BTC Cup so he needs a bit of luck with the barriers.”
Counterattack has raced twice in Group 1 company for a seventh as a two year old to stablemate Press Statement in the $600,000 BMW Australia J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Doomben during last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival and then finished third behind Japonisme and Keen Array in the $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The Redoute’s Choice three year old has been placed twice from three starts during the Sydney Autumn Carnival but did miss out on a run in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12 when he dumped his rider Glen Boss on the way to the barrier and was declared a late scratching.
Counterattack kicked off his Autumn Carnival campaign with a third to Spill The Beans in the Group 3 $150,000 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 6 followed by a fifth to Southern Legend in the Listed $125,000 The Sebring (1200m) at Rosehill on March 19.
Then at his latest start Counterattack matched strides with his stablemate Japonisme when a nose second in the Group 2 $500,000 Arrowfield 3yo Sprint (1200m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ on April 9.
Waller has also nominated the inform three year old Sir Bacchus for the Fred Best Classic.
The Sebring gelding has been working his way up through the classes with wins at Rosehill at his last two starts in a 1200m BenchMark 75 Handicap on April 23 and in a 1200m BenchMark 78 Handicap on May 7.
In early betting for the Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au Counterattack is listed as a $17 chance with the Ciaron Maher trained Azkadellia at the top of the market order at $4.40.
The Darren Weir trained Black Heart Bart is next in the market order at $7 ahead of last Saturday’s BTC Cup winner Malaguerra at $9 and Counterattack’s stablemate Delectation at $11.