Stradbroke Handicap winner River Lad is back in work with trainer Natalie McCall aiming the rising seven year old towards the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 8.
River Lad provided McCall with her biggest thrill in racing when he out plugged Temple Of Boom to score a tough nose win for Damien Oliver in this year’s Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7.
The Sunshine Coast trainer immediately spelled the Top Echelon gelding with the Spring in mind and will now set her sights at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“Originally I thought the Sir Rupert Clarke (G1 1400m at Caulfield) would be the perfect race for him, but it would have meant he only got a very short break,” McCall told The Courier-Mail.
“Instead, we are aiming to have him at his peak for the Emirates Stakes on the last day of Cup week.”
McCall has no problems that River Lad will run out a strong 1600m after scoring over the trip earlier on in his career and the way that he finished off the 1400m of the Stradbroke Handicap also gives the trainer confidence over the mile.
“I’ve learnt the best plan is to have them peaking for one race and that looks the logical one. He’s won over 1600m earlier in his career and if you’re strong enough to win a Stradbroke, it generally means you can get a mile,” McCall said.
Oliver picked up the Stradbroke Handicap winning ride on River Lad after Tim Bell elected to stick with the Kiwi trained Sacred Star after they combined to win the Group 2 $175,000 Magic Millions QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm the previous week.
Bell had been aboard River Lad on a number of occasions including the gelding’s final Stradbroke Handicap lead up run when he won the Group 3 $125,000 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 17.
River Lad is currently in pre training at Washpool Lodge at Aratula and will be back in McCall’s Sunshine Coast stables in early August for his final preparation for his 2014 Spring Carnival debut in the Group 2 $200,000 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 4.