Srikandi spot on for group 1 Stradbroke assignment

WINSLOW trainer Ciaron Maher will be chasing his second group 1 success when his lightly-raced filly Srikandi runs in the $1.36 million Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm today.

Maher, who won his first group 1 race in 2007 with the 100-1 chance Tears I Cry in the Emirates Stakes, is upbeat about Srikandi’s chances in the 1400-metre classic.

“I just can’t fault Srikandi,” he said.

“She has thrived since she came up to Queensland. She’s drawn a wide barrier but there’s not much we can do about that. We’ve just got to do the best from the wide gate and I’m sure jockey Glen Boss is up to the task.

“We would have preferred a barrier from one to 10 but we got 17. With the emergencies taken out we’ll come in four barriers. I’m confident that Bossy will be able to get a sit from the wide barrier but we’ll just have to wait and see how the race is run.”

Srikandi was put through her final paces for the race on Tuesday morning by former top Warrnambool jockey Andrew Kermond when he worked the three-year-old over 1000 metres at Eagle Farm.

Kermond told The Standard yesterday Srikandi’s work was encouraging.

“I’ve been riding Srikandi in trackwork since she came up here about a month ago,” Kermond said.

“She’s very fit and bright. She’s a strong filly.

“Ciaron and his staff have done a great job with her. Srikandi’s record speaks for itself. She’s won six of seven starts but the Stradbroke is always a tough race to win.”

Bookies eased the price of Srikandi out to $4.80 after she drew the wide barrier.

Maher, who also has stables at Caulfield, will have the services of Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Blake Shinn when he saddles up Mr O’Ceirin in the $300,000 Brisbane Cup on the same card.

The unbeaten Akavoroun is one of three runners for Maher at Moonee Valley this afternoon. 

Akavoroun, which has won four consecutive races, has been taken patiently through his grades by Maher and he believes the four-year-old is up to today’s task.

“Akavoroun is still improving,” the former jumps jockey said. “We’re just giving him plenty of time to mature and grow into himself. 

“I would say potentially he’s going to be a very good horse but he’s got to do it on the track and so far he has not let us down.  We’re watching how he performs over his next few starts but I reckon he’ll head to some nice races over the Melbourne Spring Carnival. We’ve just wanted to run him through his grades and build up his ratings. I’m confident the 1500 metres of today’s race will really suit him.”

Akavoroun has drawn barrier six in the $80,000 race and will have the services of Michelle Payne.

Fellow Warrnambool trainer Matthew Williams has two runners at the Valley today. Williams saddles up Turnitaround in a 1600-metre race and LuckyI’mbarefoot in a 1500-metre event, while Aaron Purcell accepted with Streaky Fella in a 2040-metre race.

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