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    Stradbroke Handicap - Latest news

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    Latest on Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap

    Multi-talented Steve Tregea can become one of the few to breed, own and train a Group One winner in Australia if Niccanova claims the Stradbroke Handicap.

    Tregea has built up an impressive reputation from his Windermere Stud complex on Toowoomba's outskirts on the Darling Downs.

    Niccanova raced into prominence for the Stradbroke when he flashed home for second in the Group Two Victory Stakes two weeks ago.

    So impressive was the run, jockey Jim Orman went on a strict diet to ride him at 53.5kg in the Stradbroke.

    "I don't worry much about records. I have to win the Stradbroke first and a lot of experts are saying I won't," Tregea said.

    "I am told Tommy Smith bred, owned and trained the Golden Slipper winner Bounding Away. But I would never consider myself being mentioned in the same sentence as Tommy Smith."

    "It would be a feather in the cap for Toowoomba which has been a great training centre for more than a century," he said.

    One-time favourite Vega One will be ridden in his comfort zone despite drawing wide in the Stradbroke Handicap.

    Vega One was favourite for much of the early betting in the Stradbroke until his defeat in the Victory Stakes at his last start.

    "I would have liked him to draw closer in but who wouldn't. But it isn't the end of the world," Gollan said.

    "The key is to let him run his own race. If he jumps well he can be closer but if not he can find his feet hopefully with cover and a couple deep.

    "I would certainly be happy with that. I don't want him over on the fence where he could get held up for a run."

    Gollan said apart from the barrier draw, things had been going well in Vega One's preparation .

    "We haven't had to rush him because he beat the ballot when he won The Gateway in December.

    "His run in the Victory Stakes (when ninth) was actually good," Gollan said.

    More than three decades after his father won a Stradbroke Handicap for Bart Cummings, jockey Taylor Marshall will bid to repeat the feat for the next generation of the famed racing family.

    Lightly weighted filly Exhilarates' ability to back up in a week sees her rated a top chance to give a new generation of the Cummings and Marshall families another joint Group One win.

    Exhilarates will be ridden by Taylor Marshall in the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm.

    James Cummings said a win for Exhilarates would be a wonderful story because of the family connection.

    "One of the things I've always had in mind with Exhilarates is her ability to back-up off a seven-day break," he said.

    "She did it in the Magic Millions which was probably her best win in a robust two-year-old campaign.

    "She's in good shape here with no weight on her back, third-up off that seven-day break."


    Peter Snowden once achieved the feat of training the winners of all five Australian Group One races for two-year-olds in a season.

    While he cannot match that in 2019-20, Snowden believes Saturday's JJ Atkins contender Wild Ruler is a chance to give the stable its third juvenile Group One for the Australian racing calendar.

    "It just depends how much he took out of that run the other day. That's what it comes down to," Snowden said.

    "That was only his third start and it's just whether he's maturing enough. Good horses improve rapidly so I'm hoping. He definitely shows that he's got that sort of talent.

    "He's a very good worker, it's just whether he's ready mentally to take that to the race."

    Snowden said Wild Ruler's work was "excellent" on Tuesday with Stradbroke Handicap-bound stablemate Hightail.

    "When they're matching older horses and working as well as them and better than them, you know he's a horse of talent," 

    Trainer Steve O'Dea has taken a cautious route to the JJ Atkins with Gotta Kiss but he is confident she won't be disgraced in the Group One race.

    Gotta Kiss is the forgotten horse of the Atkins as O'Dea has carefully managed her career.

    While many of her rivals on Saturday had their final JJ Atkins lead-up races a fortnight ago, O'Dea elected to run her in the Bill Carter last Saturday.

    Gotta Kiss got back on the fence in the middle stakes but ran on well to be a close third.

    "I wanted to see how she pulled up from the Carter before committing her to Saturday," O'Dea said.

    "She has pleased me so far so she can go around."

    Trainer Rob Heathcote is hopeful his patience with one of the country’s most exciting two-year-olds will be rewarded with his first hometown Group 1 victory in the J.J. Atkins at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

    Rating experts had Rothfire among the best in the country of his age before the colt suffered his first defeat when second in the QTIS Jewel at the Gold Coast in March.

    “I was under pressure to go for the Golden Slipper but I always wanted to run him in The Jewel which was worth a lot of money and then the J.J. Atkins which was worth a million dollars until COVID-19 intervened,” Heathcote told Racing Queensland.

    ‘I still believe I’ve got the best two-year-old in the country and he’s got the speed to get across from his wide barrier (14).

    “I’d like to see him lead but there is a doubt about him getting 1400 metres just like there’s a doubt about others running the distance.

    “Jim Byrne thinks he’ll have no trouble running it out.”

    Rothfire has won four of his five starts but has never been tested past 1200 metres.

    --End of article--

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