Quality mare Srikandi will continue on her path towards the Stradbroke Handicap after returning to the racetrack with a soft win in the Group 2 $200,000 SMEG Victory Stakes (1200m) at the Gold Coast today.
Srikandi was having her first start since running third in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm during last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival trainer Ciaron Maher said that race was the goal again this year.
The Stradbroke Handicap is worth $2m this year and will be run at Doomben over 1350m on June 6, not at its traditional home at Eagle Farm which is undergoing a major track reconstruction at the moment.
The Caulfield trainer said that here is still a lot of improvement left in the Dubawi mare and her next two runs will be at Doomben in the Group 1 $500,000 UBET BTC Cup (1200m) on May 9 and the Group 1 $750,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1350m) a fortnight later.
“One step at a time. The Stradie was the plan and I think she should improve off today,” Maher said.
“Match practice, she will come on a bit from it. Very happy.”
“She’s a quality horse and hopefully she can keep going.”
“It’s great going forward. After a long break you put a nice foundation on them and hope they are right.”
“She is a lot heavier mare than what she was as a filly last year round but it’s just great to kick off with a win.”
Top Queensland jockey Damian Browne was having has first race day ride on Srikandi ($3.70 favourite) and it didn’t take him long to get good feel of the mare and had her travelling sweetly in third position when the field settled down before the first corner.
Browne then made his move coming to the home turn and moved up outside the leader to give her clear run to the line to record a one length vcitory.
“Damian just rode her perfectly. He just rode well, there was good speed and then he came outside. He did exactly what he said he was going to do,” Maher said.
Runner up Ball Of Muscle ($5.50) looked like he was in for the fight by Browne was only kidding on Srikandi and hardly had to move on her as she stretched out nicely over the final one hundred metres.
Last year’s Prime Minister’s Cup winner Dances On Stars ($26) ran on solidly along the inside to finish one and three quarter lengths behind the second horse.
Last year’s Stradbroke Handicap winner River Lad ($9) raced wide throughout and compounded in the straight to finish at the tail of the field.