Leading Queensland sprinter Better Than Ready dug deep to carry the top weight of 60.5kg to victory in the Listed Keith Noud Handicap (1200m) at Eagle Farm this afternoon.
Better Than Ready is normally positioned at the tail of the field but trainer Kelly Schweida revealed earlier in the week that he would like to see the four-year-old ridden closer to the pace this weekend and jockey Ric McMahon obliged; put the son of More Than Ready in a lovely position just off the pace.
The classy entire responded when asked for an extra effort by McMahon but was unable to clear away from the rest, like he did first-up in the Club Super Handicap (1000m), and was challenged by Kelso Wood-trained Benny’s Buttons.
Benny’s Buttons looked as though he might be able to get up on the inside but Better Than Ready worked home bravely to record a narrow win from the six-year-old gelding and last-start winner Morning Captain.
Schweida admitted before the race that this was a step-up in class for Better Than Ready, from his comfortable first-up win, but was confident that his star galloper was good enough to record his eighth career win from only 15 starts.
“This is a step-up in class with 60 and a half kilos but he has done good and we just hope that his class can get him through,” Schweida said.
The Keith Noud Handicap was the first race of the Queensland Summer Series that includes the Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on December 7, the Listed Gold Edition Plate (1200m) at Eagle Farm December 14 and the Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on December 21 but Schweida confirmed that Better Than Ready would be sent for a brief stint in the spelling paddock; with his eye on the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) during the 2013 Melbourne Festival Of Racing.
“He will spell after today and then hopefully we will get him ready for Melbourne,” Schweida said.
Better Than Ready’s win was his fourth at Listed level, with the four-year-old having past success in the Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m), Falvelon Handicap (1200m) and Mick Dittman Plate (1000m), but he is yet to record a Group victory.
He made his Group 1 debut with a fifth place finish in the Newmarket Handicap (1350m) earlier this year and competed in the BTC Cup (1200m), Doomben 10,000 (1350m) and Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) during the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.