Brilliant Fred Best Classic winner Najoom has been installed the new favourite for the Group 1 $2m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday week after connections paid the $30,000 late entry fee today.
The Gai Waterhouse trained filly wasn’t among the original nominations for the Stradbroke Handicap but after scoring a breathtaking win against the three year olds in the Group 3 $125,000 Sita Australia Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday, she became exempt from the ballet for the $2m Handicap.
The conditions of the Fred Best Classic allow the winner to leapfrog straight in the final Stradbroke Handicap field but the problem was that Najoom wasn’t nominated.
With her owners Emirates Park willing to pay the late entry fee, Najoom is now equal first in the order of entry alongside of Doomben 10,000 winner Boban, BTC Cup winner Hot Snitzel and Kiwi sprinter Sacred Star.
With Najoom’s place in the Stradbroke Handicap confirmed, Ladbrokes.com.au have installed her as the $4.80 favourite ahead of Melbourne filly Lumosty at $7 and Western Australian sprinter Black Heart Bart and Godolphin’s Generalife both at $8.
Najoom has been handicapped with 50.5kg and Trevor Lobb from Emirates Park said that he checked with the filly’s regular rider Tommy Berry first to see if he could make the light weight.
“She is bouncy and happy and we decided to have a shot at the Stradbroke after we talked with Tommy (Berry) to make sure he could make the weight,” Lobb said.
Trainer Chris Waller is still deciding if he is to run Boban, who has been allocated 58kg, and if the topweight doesn’t go around the weights will have to be raised possibly 3kg which would make it a lot easier for the jockeys on the lightly weighted horses, especially Berry.
Even though Najoom was completely dominant in the Fred Best Classic with her three and a quarter lengths win after travelling three wide outside the leader, Lobb was happy to wait a couple of days to see how the Northern Meteor filly pulled up.
“She finished that race off well and we just wanted to wait to see how she was because she has been up a little while,’’ Lobb said.
“We needed to see how much that run took out of her.”
Najoom threw a scare into the Waterhouse camp when she sustained a small cut to her foreleg on Sunday morning at the beach but Lobb said that it would pose no problem in her lead up to the Stradbroke Handicap.
“It was just a little nick while she was playing around. It’s no problem at all,’’ Lobb said.
The inclusion of Najoom has pushed the Robert Smerdon trained Lumosty one place further down the order of entry and the filly is only a borderline case of making the final sixteen horse field.
Second favourite Lumosty has also been brilliant at her two runs back from a spell with two stunning wins down the Flemington straight in the $80,000 All Victorian Sprint Series Heat 2 (1100m) on May 9 and in the Listed $120,000 The Straight Six (1200m) on May 23.