A full field of sixteen plus three emergencies make up the final field for 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 and several three year olds, including the Chris Waller trained Counterattack could be heading that way.
Waller scratched Counterattack from last weekend’s Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben to run this week against his own age but the Redoute’s Choice colt has been dealt a severe setback after drawing barrier eighteen, but could come in three spots if all of the emergencies fail to gain a start.
James McDonald takes over from Craig Williams who was aboard Counterattack when a nose second to stablemate Japonisme in the Group 2 $500,000 Arrowfield 3yo Sprint (1200m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ on April 9.
“He is as good as Japonisme and Japonisme beat him home in the Coolmore in the spring and nosed him out in their last meeting,” Waller told The Courier-Mail.
“But Counterattack was three wide and had no luck that day.
“Counterattack is a very good three-year-old and I think he is a genuine Stradbroke chance.”
Waller’s other Fred Best Classic runner Sir Bacchus fared much better at the barrier draw, coming up with gate eight and will have the services of Hugh Bowman who is flying in from Japan to ride at the Doomben Cup meeting.
Sir Bacchus has been working his way up through the classes with wins at his last two starts at Rosehill in a 1200m BenchMark 75 Handicap on April 23 and in a 1200m BenchMark 78 Handicap on May 7.
“Sir Bacchus is a good example of what we like to aim at the carnival and when he was showing form in the summer we put him away and forgot about the autumn carnival in Sydney and targeted Queensland.” Waller said.
“He is certainly one of the key target horses for sure.”
The Darren Weir trained Rageese is another three year old that would be heading towards the Stradbroke Handicap with a win in the Fred Best Classic.
“Going to the Fred Best Classic could open up the Stradbroke as an option,” Weir told racing.com.
“Obviously he is one horse who has really thrived at our beach stable.”
Rageese has also drawn wide at fourteen in the original draw but will likely jump from twelve with two of the emergencies drawn inside of him.
Kerrin McEvoy takes over from Bard Rawiller who has been aboard Rageese at his last two starts that resulted in wins in a 1300m three year old Handicap at Sandown on April 9 and in the Listed $100,000 H C Nitschke Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville Parks on April 30.
Tony Pike’s Group 1 New Zealand Derby winner Rangipo has been freshened up for the Fred Best Classic and has drawn nicely at five with top Kiwi hoop Vinnie Coglan to ride.
To Good To Refuse from the Desleigh Forster stable is also cashing a Stradbroke Handicap berth and has drawn midfield at ten in the original draw with Ryan Wiggins retaining the ride after the pair finished a close second to stablemate Cylinder Beach in the Group 3 $125,000 ANTEC Gunsynd Classic (1630m) at Doomben on April 30.