Trainer Lee Freedman is happy to have Malaguarra ready to line up in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday, but admitted that it would have been better if he had a lighter weight to contend with.
Freedman was walking a fine line to qualify Malaguerra for the Stradbroke Handicap and accepted the fact that if he won a major race on the lead in that the four year old would be weighted accordingly.
Malaguerra had good lead up form heading into the Sydney Autumn Carnival and made it four wins on the trot with a victory in the Group 3 $150,000 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 26 before running sixth to English in the Group 1 $600,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 16.
Freedman and co-trainer brother Anthony were able to freshen Malaguerra up and the Magnus four year old bounced back to winning form, beating Dothraki in a tight finish in the Group 1 $500,000 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 14 and secure a place in the Stradbroke Handicap.
“It would have been nice to have a couple of kilos less but we wanted to be sure he would get into the race,” Freedman told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He is the first horse for the owner, Bruno Micalizzi,and he is having the time of his life. We took the approach if he gets there with a bit more weight, it would be because he has won a few races and would have been handsomely rewarded.”
“I guess if you look at the 56 in relation to weight-for-age he has got three kilos less than his last win, so you could argue he is well in.”
While the winner of the BTC Cup was an exempt from the ballot for the Stradbroke Handicap, it would also guarantee the victor earning a couple of kilos more when the weights were released.
Malaguerra was allocated 56kg for the Stradbroke Handicap while Darren Weir’s Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart will have to carry the top weight of 58kg.
Brisbane jockey Glen Colless rode Malaguerra to victory in the BTC Cup but Australia’s leading Group 1 jockey Hugh Bowman has been booked for the Stradbroke Handicap ride.
Bowman has ridden ten Group 1 winners in Australia in the 2015-2016 season as well two Group 1s in Hong Kong on the John Moore trained Werther and has already surpassed last season’s tally of nine Group 1 wins.
Malaguerra is very prominent in the market order for the Stradbroke Handicap and is sharing the third line of betting with Counterattack at $7 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Chris Waller trained Counterattack only has to carry 52.5kg in the Stradbroke Handicap and ran himself into contention with an impressive win in the Group 3 $125,000 Sky Racing Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 23.
Queen Of The Turf winner Azkadellia heads the market order at $4, just ahead of The Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart at $5 with Doomben 10000 winner Music Magnate also under double figures at $9.
Early market order for the Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Azkadellia, $5 Black Heart Bart, $7 Counterattack, Malaguerra, $9 Music Magnate, $11 Under The Louvre, $13 Kaepernick, $15 Delectation, $17 Takedown, $21 Artlee, Hooked, $26 Charlie Boy, $34 Precious Gem, $41 Sacred Star, Charmed Harmony, $51 Big Money, Too Good To Refuse, $67 Trubia, Two Blue, $101 Traveston Girl, Echo Gal, The Virginian.