Darley are having an each way bet with Stradbroke Handicap favourite Epaulette and haven’t ruled out a trip to England for the July Racing Festival at Newmarket.
Trainer Peter Snowden confirmed yesterday that Epualette would line up in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm next Saturday after having concerns that the weight he received would prevent him from running.
Epaulette will have to set a new weight carrying record for three year olds if he was to win the Stradbroke with 56kg with the last six winners in that age group having carried 50.5kg or less.
Epaulette’s future is as a stallion and Darley’s Australian Racing Manager Henry Plumtre said that the Commands colt could prepare for his first season at stud after the Stradbroke or make a flying trip to Newmarket for the Group 1 £500,000 Darley July Cup (6 furlong) on July 13.
“Future plans are a bit up in the air at the moment, he could be sent to stud sometime after the Stradbroke or even go to the July Cup,” Plumptre said.
“If he goes to England he would need an inoculation later this week. But he will still be racing in the Stradbroke.”
Plumptre said that Epaulette would be inoculated in preparation for the trip to England and is not worried about any adverse effects from the procedure.
“Only about one in 10 horses get knocked around by an inoculation and we would be hoping he wouldn’t be one of those,” Plumptre said.
Snowden has accepted the fact that Epaulette will be burdened with plenty of weight but will continue to prepare him to add another Winter Carnival Group 1 to his resume after winning the Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday.
“He will be running … he is there to run,” Snowden said.
“I do think 56kg is a bit hard for a three-year-old in the Stradbroke for me, but the horse doesn’t know that.”
Epaulette won the first Group 1 of the season in the Spring over the same distance as the Stradbroke when he beat stablemate Albrecht in the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 15 and Snowden is looking forward to the bigger Eagle Farm track for the three year old.
“It is the right race from him, he was very strong at the end of the 1350m last week,” Snowden said.
“He already has a Group 1 win over 1400m in the Golden Rose, so I think the distance will be pretty much exactly right for him.
“The weight isn’t ideal but that is what we have been dealt.”
Snowden is also looking to qualify his other three year olds, Academus and Complicate, for the Stradbroke when they line up in the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday with the winner being exempt from the Stradbroke ballot.
Epaulette is holding his spot at the top of the Stradbroke market at $4.40 with rival three year old Better Than Ready at $6 ahead of BTC Cup winner Your Song at $8.50.