Stradbroke Start for Mental hinges on Fred Best Classic

By: Mark Mazzaglia
May 18th, 2012

A Stradbroke Handicap start for the Peter Snowden trained Mental hinges on his performance at Doomben tomorrow in the Group 3 $125,000 Ascend Sales Fred Best Classic (1350m).

The lightly raced Mental hasn’t even stepped out in open company yet but in sitting on the third line of betting for the Group 1 $1m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9 after winning four of his seven starts in restricted class.

Early Stradbroke markets have Mental at $10, just behind the well performed Buffering at $9 with the BTC Cup winner Sea Siren the ruling favourite at $8 and Snowden knows that the three year old will have to step up tomorrow to be considered a Stradbroke threat.

“I’m taking one race at a time with Mental but I’m happy the way he is going,” Snowden said.

“He’s got a good hope tomorrow but I want to see how he competes against this class before deciding on the Stradbroke.”

“If he doesn’t go for the Stradbroke the easier option is the Queensland Guineas.”

The Group 2 $350,000 Queensland Guineas (1400m) is run at Eagle Farm the week before the Stradbroke and would prove a lot easier task for Mental against his own age.

The son of Lonhro has shown some outstanding potential including a first up win over See The World in a Benchmark 85 Handicap over 1200m at Hawkesbury on May 5 when ridden by Christian Reith.

Stable jockey Kerrin McEvoy is back aboard the three year old after having won on him at Newcastle and Warwick Farm before the pair finished fourth to Instinction in the Listed Hilton Hotels Stakes for three year olds over 1400m at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival last November.

Snowden is also eyeing off the Guineas with Free Wheeling who is going around in the Group 3 $125,000 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben tomorrow.

Free Wheeling is coming off a win at big odds in the Listed Blacktown Workers Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at Hawkesbury on May 5 and even though he is facing tougher opposition Snowden is hoping for a solid showing weighted on the minimum.

“Free Wheeling is coming off a good win in the Hawkesbury Guineas,” Snowden said.

“He’s up in class and down a lot in weight and I’m expecting him to be very competitive.”

Snowden brought Free Wheeling to Brisbane last Winter and managed to win the Group 2 $175.000 Bollinger Champagne Classic for two year olds over 1200m, the race he is starting Academus in tomorrow.

Snowden has thrown Academus into the deep end, facing some formidable opposition in the Champagne coming up against local star Sizzling and last start impressive Doomben winner Noogoora Burr as well as Gerald Ryan’s smart two year old Dances On Stars.

Sizzling could not have been more impressive with his four and a half length win in the Listed Moreton Hire Ken Russell Memorial Classic for two year olds (1200m) at the Gold Coast on a heavy track on May 5 at his first run back from a spell after finishing fourth to Driefontein in the two year old Magic Millions Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast in January.

And Noogoora Burr also created a huge impression at Doomben with the blinkers on for the first time, winning the Listed Oaks Hotel And Resorts Hampden Stakes (1200m) and is likely to follow Sizzling onto the Group 2 $250,000 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 2 and the Group 1 $500,000 Patinack Farm T J Smith (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 9.

Snowden wants to follow the same path as well if Academus handles the step up in class after the Lonhro youngster finished second at his only race start in a 1200m two year old at Hawkesbury on Hawkesbury Guineas day.

“It was a huge run but he faces a tough task against this field,” Snowden said.

“I want him to be competitive as I’m looking at going on to the Sires’ and TJ Smith with him if runs well.”

“But he’s meeting a lot of horses in this with much more experience than him.

“Gerald Ryan’s runner goes very well as does the favourite Sizzling and I was very impressed with Noogoora Burr’s win last week.”

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