Gold Coast sprinter The Virginian will tune up for the Stradbroke Handicap when he steps out in the Group 2 $175,000 Ascot Green Moreton Cup (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday.
The Virginian is currently eighteenth in the order of entry for the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday week and a win by the Hinchinbrook four year old will guarantee a start in the Winter Carnival’s premier race.
Trainer Toby Edmonds is also keen to give The Virginian one more run before the Stradbroke Handicap after the gelding resumed from a spell for an impressive first up win Listed $100,000 IPG Marketing Solutions Chief De Beers (1050m) at Doomben on May 20.
“He’s right on the edge, so it’s pretty important he runs and runs well to get into it,” Edmonds told The Courier-Mail.
“It’s very difficult to go into a Stradbroke second-up.”
Edmonds is not worried about The Virginian backing up in a week but history shows that the winner of the Moreton Cup, formerly known as the QTC Cup, has never won the Stradbroke Handicap.
“I think the seven-day back up will be ideal. I don’t mind geldings on a seven-day back-up,” Edmonds said.
“He won’t have to do any work. He will be rock-hard fit by then. He will just have to tick over, get there safe and sound and run well.”
Doomben 10,000 winning jockey Jim Byrne will again be on The Virginian following the their win in the Chief De Beers and he is certain to get a beautiful run from barrier three in the thirteen horse field.
The lightly raced The Virginian ran third in last year’s Stradbroke Handicap at only his fourth race start and is currently listed as a $21 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au to win this year.
In the betting for the Moreton Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au The Virginian is the second pick at $5.50 behind the $5 favourite Deploy who heads to Doomben on the back of a last start second to Quatronic in the Listed $150,000 Arrowfield Ortensia Stakes (1100m) at Scone on May 13.