Melbourne flyer Lord Of The Sky will head north for the Group 1 $2m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Lord Of The Sky, at the long odds of $21, was a whisker away from causing a huge upset when nabbed on the post by the well fancied Chautauqua ($4) in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 6.
Because of the ongoing reconstruction work on the Eagle Farm track, the traditional home of the Stradbroke Handicap, the premier event of the Brisbane Winter Carnival will be run at Doomben this year and it’s distance has been reduced from a tough 1400m to 1350m.
Cranbourne trainer Robbie Laing sees this as a great opportunity for a hit-run mission to grab a slice of the $2m prizemoney on offer.
“I might throw all my eggs into the Stradbroke basket,” Laing told The Courier-Mail.
“If you can run 1200m at Randwick, he will get 1350m around Doomben.”
Lord Of The Sky had done all the tough work early in the T J Smith Stakes with Damien Oliver settling the speedster outside of the leader before letting him loose at the top of the rise.
But just when the four year old looked to have the race in his keeping, Tommy Berry brought Chautauqua from the tail of the field to grab a last stride victory.
“Damien said it was only losing concentration that cost him the T.J. He had a big enough break with 50m to go, but he caught sight of the winning post and just lost it a bit,” Laing said.
“Prior to that he had done all the hard work and was left on his own.”
Laing is planning to head into the Stradbroke Handicap without another run would like to organize a flight to Brisbane on the eve of the race but if that can’t be arranged he will leave Lord Of The Sky at trainer Paul Messara’s stables at Scone before travelling up to Brisbane closer to the event.
“Ideally I would like to keep him at home and fly him up the night before, but if that’s not possible, I will take him up to Paul Messara’s place and leave him there,” Laing said.
Lord Of The Sky had been regarded as a short course horse with all his five wins being over 1000m and 1100m but Laing had always wanted to try him over more ground and he proved at Randwick that he could handle a slightly longer distance at the highest level.
At his previous start Lord Of The Sky set the pace in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 14 before finishing three and a half lengths fourth to tearaway winner Brazen Beau who scored by two and three quarter lengths from Chautauqua with half a length to Terravista in third spot.