Champion jockey Damien Oliver is happy to forgive Azkadellia for her uncharacteristic failure in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on the new Eagle Farm track last Saturday.
Azkadellia was sent out as the $4 favourite but after traveling near the tail of the field in the early and middle stages, was unable to make up any ground on the new surface that was being used for the first time and finished in tenth position, ten and three quarter lengths behind the winner Under The Louvre ($11)
The Ciaron Maher trained mare drew near the inside of the capacity eighteen horse Stradbroke Handicap field at barrier five and Oliver said that the good gate didn’t help her chances.
“The inside draw was no good for us, I made ground up along the inside but when the rest of the field quickened, the horse out wide just sling shot off the bend and left us standing,” Oliver said.
“It is hard to be critical of her performance, just because of how the track played.”
Azkadellia had been at the top of the Stradbroke Handicap market order after a very successful Sydney Autumn Carnival that saw come away with a Group 1 victory in the Group 1 $1m The Coolmore Legacy Stakes (Queen Of The Turf Stakes) (1600m) at Randwick oj the second day of ‘The Championships’ on April 9.
At her two previous starts the Shinko King mare finished second to Peeping in the Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 12 followed by a third to Chris Waller’s superstar Winx in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on the first day of ‘The Championships’ on April 2.
Maher then freshened up Azkadellia and the mare lost no admirers when she flashed home for second to Music Magnate in the Group 1 $750,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1350m) at Doomben on May 28.
Oliver had a day he would rather forget on Saturday and as well as getting beaten on the favourite in the Stradbroke Handicap, the three times Melbourne Cup winning jockey was also suspended for careless riding after he pleaded guilty to causing interference to Amicus when shifting ground on Onemorezeta at the 1100m mark in Group 2 $200,000 Bundaberg Rum Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m).
Racing Queensland stewards suspended Oliver for eleven days and he will be free to ride on Tattersall’s Club Tiara Day at Eagle Farm on June 25.
Maher is yet to confirm any Spring Carnival plans for Azkadellia but the mare is prominent in early markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October and is on the second line of betting at $13 behind the ruling Cox Plate trophy holder Winx at $3.30.