Trainer Ciaron Maher is confident that Azkadellia is ready to produce her best in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Azkadellia rounded off her Stradbroke Handicap preparation with a solid hit on the Eagle Farm course this morning at Breakfast With The Stars.
Maher feels that today’s gallop on top of her first up second to Music Magnate in the Group 1 $750,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1350m) at Doomben on May 28 will have her at her peak for Saturday.
“The Doomben 10,000 run would have done her the world of good, it was just the fitness top-up she needed,’’ Maher told The Courier-Mail.
“She didn’t do anything for the first half of that race, she basically fell asleep at the back of the field.
“She has always been a mare who has improved with racing and I am sure she is ready to show people what she can do on Saturday.”
“She has one of the most explosive turns of speed of any horse I have trained.’’
Maher won last year’s Stradbroke Handicap with Srikandi when the Winter Carnival feature sprint was run at Doomben over 1350m while the Eagle Farm track was undergoing reconstruction work and has a great chance to claim back to back wins.
While Azkadellia is ready to run a mighty race, Maher is always wary that the back marker needs plenty of luck in running, especially in a capacity field in the Stradbroke Handicap.
“She generally just needs luck in running … she gets back and she’s either got to weave a path through the field or go wide,” Maher said.
“I think that’s her biggest opposition, getting a nice clean run through.”
Damien Oliver rode Azkadellia to victory in the Group 1 $1m The Coolmore Legacy Stakes (Queen Of The Turf Stakes) (1600m) at Randwick on the second day of “The Championships’ on April 9 and will be reunited with the mare in the Stradbroke Handicap, taking over from Mark Zahra.
“Ollie will be back on board, he’s got a great record on the horse and just seems to gel with her so we’re rapt to have him back on,” Maher said.
Oliver has been aboard Azkadellia in three of her last five outings but missed the ride in the Doomben 10000 because of a careless riding suspension.
Ladbrokes.com.au have Azkadellia at the top of the Stradbroke Handicap market order at $4 ahead of the Darren Weir trained Black Heart Bart at $5 and BTC Cup winner Malaguerra and Chris Waller’s three year old Counterattack both at $7.
Early market order for the Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Azkadellia, $5 Black Heart Bart, $7 Counterattack, Malaguerra, $9 Under The Louvre, $10 Music Magnate, $13 Kaepernick, Delectation, $17 Takedown, $21 Artlee, Hooked, $26 Charlie Boy, $34 Precious Gem, $41 Sacred Star, Charmed Harmony, $51 Big Money, Too Good To Refuse, $67 Trubia, Two Blue, $101 Traveston Girl, Echo Gal, The Virginian.