Kiwi sprinter Sacred Star will have to break a longstanding hoodoo if he is to win the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Sacred Star, with local rider Tim Bell in the saddle, scored an empathic win in the Group 2 $175,000 Magic Millions QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
But Cambridge trainer Tony Pike knows that no QTC Cup winner has backed up and gone on to win the Stradbroke Handicap the following week since its inception in 1979.
“I know history is against us coming out of that race on Saturday, but he drops two kilos and now the jockey has had a feel of him, so if he draws a barrier he’s in with a decent show,” Pike told The Informant.
“It’s all come together for him and he gets into the Stradbroke with a nice light weight.”
“He’s a bugger for getting there too soon and that can make him tricky to ride.”
Bell completed the best day’s riding of his career wrapping up a winning treble on Sacred Star after winning his first Group 1 race on Tinto in the $400,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) as well as saluting on Sir Moments in the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m).
The in-form jockey has shown no discomfort over the last couple weeks after suffering a hairline fracture to the wrist and his decision to ride on through the Winter Carnival has been rewarded with five Group wins.
“I will probably take a couple of weeks off after the carnival to give it some time to recover,” Bell told The Courier-Mail.
Bell is also aware that no horse has won the QTC Cup – Stradbroke Handicap double but was quick to switch from the Natalie McCall trained River Lad to Sacred Star for the Stradbroke Handicap and is giving the Flying Spur four year old an excellent chance on Saturday.
“I know that no horse has ever done the double, but no horse has had a preparation like this one either. They have gone in with a deliberate plan and the freshness in his legs is going to be a big help,” Bell said.
“It wasn’t an easy decision because I have built a really good friendship with Natalie McCall and I’ve won a couple of nice Group 3 races on River Lad.”
“It was definitely hard getting off him but opportunities like this don’t come around too often.
“I just feel Sacred Star fits the mould of a Stradbroke winner a bit better.”
Scared Star was re-handicapped for the Stradbroke Handicap to 53kg after being penalised 1kg for his win in the QTC Cup but will have to carry 53.5kg when the weights are raised half a kilogram at acceptance time on Wednesday so that Spirit of Boom, handicapped at 57.5kgs, will carry the mandatory topweight of 58kgs.
Scared Star has firmed to be a $13 chance for the Stradbroke Handicap with Ladbrokes.com.au while Melbourne filly Srikandi remains at the top of the market order at $4.60 ahead of Rebel Dane at $6.50 and Adelaide three year old Hucklebuck at $7.
The Chris Waller trained Red Tracer is also in the market at $8.50 with Doomben 10000 winner Spirit Of Boom at $9 while stablemate Temple Of Boom is sharing the next line of betting with Knoydart at $10. River Lad is a $41 chance.