Sunshine Coast trainer Natalie McCall is planning a trip to Sydney to run River Lad in the Group 2 $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Randwick as a stepping stone towards a start in the Stradbroke Handicap during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
McCall will step River Lad up to the February 8 weight for age contest at Randwick after the six year old scored a dogged first up win over 1200m in an Open Handicap at Doomben last Saturday.
The up and coming trainer will saddle up her first runner in Sydney and said that River Lad deserves his chance to be tested in better company and will give McCall a good idea of his standing as she tries to gain a start in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7.
“I have had a few runners over the border but not Sydney. I am looking forward to it and he deserves a chance in better company,” McCall told The Daly Telegraph.
River Lad chalked up win number eleven from thirty-three starts, but Saturday’s victory was the gelding’s first at Doomben when he beat Bymonashee by a quarter of a length, with McCall impressed with his fighting spirit.
“He did everything wrong today. He wanted to pull, he hung and he really doesn’t like Doomben,” McCall said.
“But you can put his win down to his big heart.”
“I’m very happy with the win although he raced a bit fresh and hung with his big weight.”
“He hung from the first corner when he drifted back and pulled from then on.”
McCall was happy to let River Lad go around with the top weight of 60.5kgs so premiership winning jockey Michael Cahill could give her a good assessment, and he did.
“Michael was rapt with his run so he’ll go straight into the Expressway Stakes next start,” McCall said.
McCall is hoping to qualify River Lad for the Stradbroke Handicap this year after missing out on a start last year after finishing second to Famous Seamus in the Listed $175,000 Carlton Draught Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) at the Gold Coast on May 4.
River Lad just failed to make it back to back wins in the Group 3 $175,000 W J Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm in June last Winter when beaten ahead by Howmuchdoyouloveme.