AZKADELLIA may be the $3.75 favourite heading into Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap, but the punters are favouring BTC Cup-winner Malaguerra to cause a boil over at Eagle Farm.
Sportsbet.com.au have had a flood of money come in for the Lee Freedman trained gelding in Saturday’s Group 1, who currently sits on the fourth line of betting at $7 after previously holding a $12 quote.
Second favourite Counterattack ($5.50) has failed to attract the money while Goodwood Handicap winner Black Heart Bart ($6.50) is the third most popular runner for punters.
Six-year-old mare Precious Gem ($34) is the best backed outsider of the field.
Malaguerra will carry 56kg into the Group 1 race at Eagle Farm, a fact that does not concern trainer Lee Freedman.
“It would have been nice to have a couple of kilos less but we wanted to be sure he would get into the race,” Freedman said.
“I guess if you look at the 56 in relation to weight-for-age he has got three kilos less than his last win, so you could argue he is well in.”
While Freedman is confident his runner can take out the Group 1, the task of overcoming favourite Azkadellia will be an onerous one.
The four-year-old mare was sensational two weeks ago after settling a long way off the speed in the Doomben 10,000, rocketing home to claim second behind Music Magnate.
The Ciaron Maher trained star has placed in her last four Group 1 race starts.
Maher believes his star mare will benefit greatly from the second placed finish at Doomben a fortnight ago.
“The Doomben 10,000 run would have done her the world of good, it was just the fitness top-up she needed,’’ Maher said.
“She didn’t do anything for the first half of that race, she basically fell asleep at the back of the field.
“She has always been a mare who has improved with racing and I am sure she is ready to show people what she can do on Saturday. She has one of the most explosive turns of speed of any horse I have trained.’’
Maher is going for back-to-back wins in the Stradbroke this year after Srikandi claimed the race last year.
The Victorian based trainer believes Azkadellia is better placed for the Stradbroke than last year’s winner.
“Srikandi was an absolute brute who would bounce out of the barriers, put herself on the speed and kick strongly,’’ he said.
“Azkadellia is far more brilliant but, in turn, she has to race back in the field and needs some luck.
“If you weighed up the pros and cons of both, you would probably be left with about the same number of pros and cons for both.”
While the field looks to be a strong one on paper, Sportsbet.com.au see it differently.
Sportsbet representative Will Bryne said punters are only interested in the Freedman and Maher runners.
“Punters have it down to a race in two, but that could change after the barrier draw. Azkadellia turned in a super effort in the Doomben 10,000 so if she draws a good barrier, she’ll probably firm in betting,’’ Bryne said.
The Stradbroke Handicap – which was slated to be run last week on the 4th of June – has been transferred to the 11th of June at Eagle Farm after inclement weather forced the abandonment of last week’s card.
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
$6.50 Black Heart Bart
$7.50 Music Magnate
$11 Under The Louvre
$26 Charlie Boy
$34 Precious Gem