The Darley operation has Knoydart, Emblems and Reparations in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap and Bloodstock Manager Jason Walsh believes that all three are genuine winning chances in the Group 1 event at Eagle Farm tomorrow.
Knoydart is the only Darley horse in the Stradbroke Handicap field that has previously raced at Group 1 level and was one of the most consistent sprinters during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing; finishing third in both the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
After finishing second in the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m), the More Than Ready gelding made his Brisbane racing debut with a fast-finishing fifth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 24, which Walsh told Racing Ahead was the perfect trial for the Stradbroke Handicap.
“We thought that Knoydart’s 10,000 run was a really good Stradbroke trial and obviously he gets a lot of weight relief relative to those that he competed against in that race,” Walsh said.
“The way that he finished off strongly at the end of that race made us think that it was a really pleasing trial.”
Knoydart is rated Darley’s best winning chance in Stradbroke Handicap betting markets, but Walsh is not ruling out Emblems, who suffered a surprise loss as favourite in the Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone on May 17.
Walsh believes that Emblems had plenty of excuses for his disappointing performance in the race and is confident that the son of Shamardal will produce an improved effort in the Stradbroke Handicap on Saturday.
“Emblems was a bit disappointing at Scone, but in reviewing that race there were a few things that we think went against him,” Walsh said.
“He didn’t actually settle in that well where we stayed up there and even on arriving in Brisbane straight after the race he did take a couple of days to get back and bouncing.
“We were disappointed that he didn’t win on that day and he has done a great job in his work since and we think that he is there to run a race.”
The Darley trio in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap field is rounded out by Reparations, who is trained by Anthony Cummings rather than John O’Shea, and the Exceed And Excel gelding is taking winning form into the Stradbroke Handicap.
Reparations took out the Listed Thoroughbred Club Cup (1440m) at Caulfield on May 3 and Walsh revealed that Freedman feels that the five-year-old is a better horse when he has the chance to run the Brisbane and Sydney way of going.
“Anthony is very happy with him,” Walsh said.
“He had a trial at Doomben about ten days ago, which he was very pleased with.
“It is a significant rise in grade, but we think that the horse is in career best from.
“Anthony has a theory that he may even be better going in the Sydney and Brisbane direction.
“His last two starts going Sydney way were really strong performances and we think that he is a lightweight knockout chance.”
Knoydart has been well supported in 2014 Stradbroke Handicap betting markets and is currently available at a quote of $9.50, while Emblems ($31) and Reparations ($34) are both available at lucrative double figure odds.