Celtic Dancer’s impressive win in Saturday’s QTC Cup has seen the gelding receive a 0.5kg weight penalty and gain a shock start in this weekend’s Group 1 $1 million Stradbroke Handicap.
The penalty takes the Noel Doyle-trained gelding’s weight allocation to 52.5kg and catapults him into 19th spot in the Stradbroke order of entry.
Joe Pride-trained gelding Neeson has already been confirmed as a non-starter which means Celtic Dancer is guaranteed a spot in the 18-horse field.
Speaking after Saturday’s race, trainer Doyle was not expecting to gain a Stradbroke start and had already earmarked the Eyeliner Stakes at Ipswich on June 16 as his next target.
“I’d like to say we’d run in the Stradbroke but I don’t think we have a chance of getting there,” Doyle said.
With Celtic Dancer’s place in the Stradbroke now confirmed, Doyle is hoping Brisbane will experience similar weather to what caused Saturday’s meeting at Eagle Farm to be run on a heavy track.
“He’s quite effective on top of the ground but a wet track does give him an edge,” Doyle said.
In Saturday’s Group 2 QTC Cup, the son of Choisir got out of the gates impressively from the inside barrier and lead from start to finish.
The win took his career record to seven victories from 26 starts with three of those coming on heavy tracks.
Doyle instructed talented young jockey Tim Bell to lead from the outset and was confident Celtic Dancer possessed the toughness to hold on.
“He’s proved it. He has won three times on a track like this,” Doyle said.
“He loves to lead on his own and travel nicely, he’s a bulldog, he won’t give in.”
The lucrative Stradbroke Handicap takes place on Saturday as part of the biggest day of the Brisbane Winter Carnival that also includes the Group 1 Queensland Derby, the TJ Smith Plate and the Brisbane Cup.