Azkadellia will remain at the top of the market order for Saturday’s Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm after drawing five in a final field of eighteen at today’s barrier draw.
The Ciaron Maher trained Azkadellia will strip a much fitter horse after a first up second to Music Magnate in the Group 1 $750,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1350m) at Doomben on May 28 and the Caulfield trainer said that she will has trained on in great style.
“It was a blistering tempo. She seemed to pull up well,” Maher said.
“She has come on from it. Her coat seems to have come out a bit. It was her strongest hit out since the Autumn and she normally improves with racing through her campaign so hopefully she can do the same.”
“All we can do is get her there on the day in good order.”
Azkadellia remains the $4 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au and Maher is relying on the expertise of champion jockey Damien Oliver to give the back marker a trouble free run from back in the field.
“Hopefully we can get a smooth run through in transit,” Maher said.
“Generally she needs a little bit of luck just by the way she races, getting through the traffic.”
“Damien knows her well and he is a good jockey so we will see what happens.”
Saturday’s meeting sees the return to racing on the reconstructed Eagle Farm track after the scheduled reopening at last week’s Queensland Oaks Day has to be cancelled because of the wild weather that engulfed South East Queensland on Friday night and Saturday.
Azkadellia has had a feel of the new Eagle Farm course proper and as well as galloping at the Breakfast With The Stars on Tuesday morning, the Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner looked good in winning an unofficial barrier trial on the new surface on May 19.
“She has had a couple of gallops on it and really likes having her toe in the ground,” Maher said.
“She is well. She came through her gallop well yesterday so we will line up out of five and see what happens.”
Second favourite Black Heart Bart drew just worse than midfield at barrier ten and is chasing back to back Group 1 wins after taking out the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 21.
Brad Rawiller rode the Darren Weir trained five year old in The Goodwood and gets the mount again in the Stradbroke Handicap.
Doomben 10000 winner Music Magnate drew close to the inside at barrier three with Kerrin McEvoy to ride again and Hugh Bowman should be able to give BTC Cup winner Malaguerra a good run from barrier nine.
The Chris Waller trained Delectation with James McDonald in the saddle draw well at barrier seven while his stablemate Counterattack will need some luck from gate fourteen.
Hong Kong’s leading jockey Joao Moreira will make the trip to Brisbane to ride Counterattack who has a nice lightweight of 52.5kg.
Group 1 winning mare Precious Gem drew the outside of the eighteen horse Stradbroke Handicap field and the Team Hawkes trained Kaepernick didn’t fare much better, coming up the seventeen marble.