A Stradbroke Handicap re-match is looming in the Group 2 $200,000 SMEG Victory Stakes (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday with River Lad and Temple Of Boom in the final twelve horse field.
Only a nose separated River Lad and Temple Of Boom in the 2014 Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm when they finished first and second and both sprinters are kicking off their 2015 Winter Carnival program on the weekend.
Both campaigned during the Melbourne Spring Carnival without success and their trainer’s Natalie McCall and Tony Gollan are looking forward to this year’s Winter Carnival.
“Nothing really went right in Melbourne for him. He either got caught deep or the tracks were too hard,” McCall said of River Lad.
“But he has spelled well and I am pleased with the way he has come back.”
Stradbroke Handicap winning jockey Damien Oliver will again be aboard River Lad who has drawn worse than midfield at barrier eight while regular rider Tegan Harrison will partner Temple Of Boom again and will jump from gate six.
Gollan will also saddle up Alma’s Fury and the in-form Rocket To Glory who heads to the Gold Coast on the back of wins in the $100,000 Carbine Club Gold Coast Stakes (1200m) at the Gold Coast on March 14 and in the Listed Listed $100,000 Adagold Aviation Chief De Beers Handicap (1110m) at Doomben on April 11.
Luke Tarrant takes over from Harrison on Rocket To Glory, who has drawn barrier four and Jim Byrne is the new rider for Alma’s Fury (barrier 9) who is having his first run since running eleventh to Elite Belle in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 22.
Melbourne sprinter Speediness has drawn barrier seven with Steven Arnold to ride while the powerful Godolphin racing team will be represented by Knoydart (Hugh Bowman, gate 2) who performed fairly during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The More Than Ready five year old ran fourth to Miracles Of Life in the Group 2 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on March 7 followed by a sixth to Sweet Idea in the Group 1 $400,000 Canadian Club Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on March 21.
Last year’s Winter Carnival star Srikandi has drawn the inside gate with top local jockey Damian Browne having his first ride on the Dubawi mare while Ball Of Muscle has also drawn well at barrier three with Blake Shinn to ride.
Dances On Stars with Brenton Avdulla has drawn barrier five, Hidden Warrior with the in-form Jim Cassidy will jump from gate ten while Whittington (barrier 11) with Chad Schofield and local hope Cape Kidnappers (barrier 12) with Ric McMahon have drawn the two outside barriers.