Trainer Chris Waller has both Red Tracer and Velrosso in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap, with Masthead the first emergency, and he rates Red Tracer as his best chance in the Group 1 event at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Red Tracer started her 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with a win in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 1 and performed well in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick on March 15 before failing to fire in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29.
The Dane Shadow mare returned to a semblance of her best form in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and Waller said that the talented mare has taken great benefit up from the freshen-up that she was given before beginning preparations for a 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign.
Waller rates Vilanova in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) as his best winning chance at Eagle Farm on Saturday, but believes that Red Tracer goes into the Stradbroke Handicap as a genuine winning chance.
“She is very well, freshened up great, trialed well and is spot on,” Waller said.
“I don’t think that she drew too bad, she comes into barrier 12, and she is our second best chance on the day.
“She has won a Group 1 on a firm track and she has only been beaten once from five attempts over 1400 metres.”
Velrosso will be making his Group 1 debut in the Stradbroke Handicap this weekend and made up good ground late when he returned to racing in the Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone on May 17.
The General Nediym gelding’s chances in the $1.36 million race took a hit when he drew an outside gate at the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw yesterday and Waller admits that the five-year-old will need plenty of luck to score his maiden win at Group 1 level on Saturday.
“It is a bad draw and we will ride him dead cold,” Waller said.
“He would need a lot of luck to win, but it is $1 million first prize and you have to have a crack.
“There will be a lot of speed on and a lot of pressure on from the 600 and he will have the last crack at them.”
Waller remains an outside chance of having three runners in the Stradbroke Handicap field; with Masthead the first emergency for the Group 1 event.
Masthead narrowly missed out on securing a start in the Stradbroke Handicap when he finished second behind Sacred Star in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday and Waller said that he is happy with the form of the Written Tycoon gelding.
“He is racing very well and he has bounced through Saturday’s run were he ran second,” Waller said.
“He has a nice light weight and like Velrosso will be having the last crack at them late.”
Red Tracer is currently available at 2014 Stradbroke Handicap odds of $10, while Masthead ($21) and Velrosso ($41) are both priced at a double figure quote.