A Stradbroke Handicap start is waiting for three year old Epaulette if he can repeat his first up effort in the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Peter Snowden’s smart colt produced a solid effort at his first run since the Spring with a fighting second to the mighty mare Black Caviar in the Group 1 $1m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 13.
With a terrific second up record, Snowden expects Epaulette to be right in the finish on Saturday and book himself on the float to Brisbane with the Group 1 $1m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8 his main target.
Epaulette’s Brisbane campaign will more than likely also include the weight for age Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben two weeks before the Stradbroke.
“It’s going to be a great race on Saturday and Epaulette is in great order. His second up record is outstanding,” Snowden said.
Snowden said he decided to concentrate on Brisbane after Epaulette got behind in his preparation after a minor setback early in the early part of the Autumn and will join his winter team in Queensland.
“Ever since he had that setback, it’s always been the intention to set him for Brisbane,” Snowden said.
“We couldn’t have been any happier with the way he ran first up behind Black Caviar and he’s come back in superb form.”
Epaulette scored at Group 1 level second up in the Spring beating stablemate Albrecht in the Group 1 $1m Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill and carried that form to Melbourne with a third to All Too Hard and Pierro in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 13.
With the announcement that Sydney’s top three year old Pierro has been retired and All Too Hard will only have one or two more starts before beginning stud duties, another first class performance from Epaulette on the weekend will leave the Commands colt as the leading three year old still racing.
Nominations for the All Aged Stakes have been extended to eleven o’clock tomorrow morning after only fifteen entries were received today.
As well as Epaulette and All Too Hard, several Group 1 winners have been nominated including Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous, Sea Siren, Rangirangdoo, Happy Trails and Hay List who has been struggling at his two runs back from a lengthy spell.
Waterhouse has also nominated last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente who has had two barrier trials for his return to racing.
Other notable nomination is the Chris Waller trained Arinosa who will get her chance at Group 1 level after winning her last four starts with the latest at Group 2 level in the $175,000 Belvedere Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 13.