A start for Malandrino in the Group 3 $125,000 Mittys Rough Habit Plate (2000m) at Doomben on Saturday in up in the air with the possibility that New Zealand the three year old could be sold to Hong Kong.
Malandrino would push his claims for outright favouritism for the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9 with a bold showing in the Rough Habit but trainer Murray Baker indicated that he wouldn’t start on Saturday if the sale went through.
“We’re not sure if he’s running in the Rough Habit,” Baker said.
“If he’s sold he’ll definitely come out and he won’t run for me again. He’s passed his vet tests but the deal isn’t quite finalised yet.”
“We should know either way by tomorrow (Friday) but if he happens to run he’ll run very well. He’s got some class.”
Baker has high hopes for the Darci Brahma three year old after winning at his last two starts before landing in Brisbane.
With New Zealand boom jockey James McDonald on board Maladrino scored a first up win over 1580m in a restricted race at Te Awamutu on March 13 then was an easy winner with McDonald again in the saddle taking out the Group 3 NZ$70,000 Higgins Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni.
“He won easy in the Manawatu Classic and it’s a very good race,” Baker said.
“Four of the last seven winners in the race have gone on to win Group Ones.”
“I had one of them, Dowry, who won the South Australian Oaks.”
Baker was aiming Malandrino at the Queensland Derby with the firm belief that his stout staying bloodlines would see him run out a strong 2400m.
“Malandrino is a pretty good horse and being out of a Montjeu mare he should stay,” Baker said.
“His win last start was very good. He was fourth and was challenged on the bend but he went on to win quite well.”
However, Malandrino’s New Zealand wins had also attracted Hong Kong buyers who are still in deep negotiations with connections.
Baker said that the three year old had passed the veterinary tests required for the sale to go ahead while both parties are keen to work out a deal which will determine if he continues his winter campaign under Baker’s care.
If Malandrino is ruled out for Saturday, a number of Rough Habit hopefuls can enhance their chances for the Queensland Derby with a bold showing and push their way up the marker order.
Malandrino shares favouritism for the Derby at $4.50 with Zabeelionaire, who is still in the betting ahead of another Kiwi, Nashville at $11, Isopach at $15 and the Robert Heathcote trained Trump at $15.