Australian three-year-old star Ayrton had his first look around Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning before the Fred Best Classic, which he needs to win to ensure a start in next month’s Stradbroke Handicap.
The Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr runner has won all three of his career starts by impressive margins and opens as a $1.50 favourite for Saturday’s Group 3 in Brisbane.
Ayrton was able to complete a track gallop on the course proper at Eagle Farm under the watchful eye of Price.
“Work was good, it was ideal,” the trainer said.
While Jamie Kah has partnered the son of Iffraaj in all three career starts, she will be unable to make the 49.5kg in the Stradbroke should the horse gain a start, so connections have opted to get Rachel King used to the three-year-old prior to ‘the big dance’.
“The main thing is you get a good report from jockeys, so that was Rachel King’s first sit on him,” Price said.
“She’s obviously very talented, very professional, good little horse girl.
“Her feedback was very good.”
Ayrton was working alongside Group 1-winning stablemate Odeum, and Price was content with the early morning hit-out.
“They ran time,” he said.
“At the furlong he (Jordan Grob, Odeum’s rider) felt like they both improved, albeit that Ayrton looked to be going better.
“According to Rachel King, she had plenty up her sleeve.
“They ran 11.4s the last furlong; Matt Hoysted tells me that that is the proper time for those course proper gallops.
“I’ve got no complaints.”
Ayrton currently has a stranglehold on the Stradbroke, where he is a $3.50 favourite despite the fact that he does not have a guaranteed spot in the final field.
“He’s doing well. He’s nice and fresh, he’s fit,” Price said.
“It looks like he’ll turn up here Saturday and be hard to beat and we’ll get a good look at him and then have a chat about the Stradbroke after that.”
Price & Kent Jr will also saddle up New Zealand three-year-old Hezashocker in Saturday’s Group 1 Queensland Derby.
The son of Shocking has had just the three runs in New Zealand, including a last-start win at Group 2 level at Ellerslie in the Trelawney Stakes (2100m).
Price believes the former Shaun Clotworthy runner is a good addition to the stable who will make his presence felt in the 2400m feature at Eagle Farm.
“He was good,” he said.
“He’s a real typical Kiwi stayer.
“He’s got this big depth of lung on him.
“He worked here over a mile … Jordan Grob rode him and he said he could have gone around again.”
While Hezashocker will be a month between runs and first-up in Australia at Group 1 level, Price is confident that he will show up and that the booking of Mark Zahra will make a big impact.
“He’s the right horse to do it,” he said.
“I haven’t set out to change anything.
“He’s on their (the Clotworthys’) feed and he has had to do this sort of work.
“This is probably the furthest he’s worked over this morning but he’s a very clean-winded horse.
“He’s going super.”
Hezashocker is currently a $21 chance in the Queensland Derby betting and will jump from barrier 16.