River Lad is bound for a start in the Stradbroke Handicap following his all the way win in the Group 3 $125,000 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben today.
Trainer Natalie McCall said that River Lad has earned his chance to run in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 after producing a great display of speed from start to finish today.
Even though River Lad is a rising seven year old McCall said that he still had some improvement left in him and that this preparation could be his best.
“He is six year old but I think he is still improving and like I said I think this will be his best prep,” McCall said.
“He has kept improving every time we’ve brought him in, his form says that.”
“Hopefully we get into the Stradbroke with a light weight and that’s his hope.”
“The Stradbroke will definitely be his next run.”
Jockey Tim Bell made light of River Lad’s ($9.50) wide barrier and let the six year old slide to the lead and was able to hold the strong challenge from Benny’s Buttons ($5.50) in the run to the line to score a long head with Fire Up Fifi ($9.50) running on late from the back for third.
“It didn’t seem to be a lot speed in it. We were drawn awkwardly but he is probably better outside the horses, as we saw at Eagle Farm he doesn’t appreciate being in amongst them,” McCall said.
River Lad ran one of his career best races when second to Appearance in the Group 2 $200,000 SCSI Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 8 but then was a well beaten seventh to Temple Of Boom in the Group 2 $175,000 Greenslopes Private Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on April 26.
“We didn’t really have him wound up for his last start, but expected a little bit better run, a few excuses, and we just wanted to find out if those few excuses were the reason and it looks like they had been,” McCall said.
Bell had to wait all day to ride a winner on Doomben Cup day but was pleased to be able to chalk up his second win on River Lad after scoring on him almost two years ago in the 2012 Group 3 $175,000 W J Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm.