Trainer Ciaron Maher has confirmed champion hoop Damien Oliver will return to the saddle of Azkadellia when she lines up for the featured 2016 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11th.
Oliver partnered Azkadellia in three of her five Autumn campaign starts, peaking with an impressive win in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on Day 2 of The Championships, but missed the ride on mare in last Saturday’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (13500m) through suspension.
Having been confirmed to make his return at Sandown on Saturday, Maher told Racenet he is thrilled to have booked Oliver to ride Azkadellia in the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap.
“Ollie will be back on board, he’s got a great record on the horse and just seems to gel with her so we’re rapt to have him back on,” Maher said.
Azkadellia was settled at the tail of the field in the Doomben 10,000 on Saturday, but produced a typically strong turn of foot in the final straight to run on for a close second behind shock winner Music Magnate.
Maher revealed the daughter of Shinko King has come through the run in great condition and is continuing to tick over well in the lead-up to the Stradbroke Handicap 2016.
“She’s had a couple of days at the beach and just had an easy trot and canter this morning,” Maher said.
“She cleaned up her tucker on Sunday and I think the run will bring her on, she probably peaked a little bit on her run on Saturday.
“It’s a fine line between keeping them up and getting them ready from the autumn, especially for a weight-for-age race like she had Saturday.
“She needed a good strong hitout like that. I couldn’t be happier with the way she has come through the run and Eagle Farm will probably suit her better as well.”
Azkadellia began her racing career in New Zealand in 2014, but was purchased and transferred to the care of Maher after only one competitive start.
Capping a strong 2015 campaign a credible third in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m), Azkadellia resumed this time for second in the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes (1200m) on February 13th before returning to winning form in the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) a fortnight later.
Running a close second to Peeping in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m), Azkadellia ran on for third in the talent-rich Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on Day 1 on The Championships; her only other start prior to the Queen Of The Turf Stakes.
Azkadellia remains a $4.40 favourite in early 2016 Stradbroke Handicap betting markets with Ladbrokes Australia.