By Ray Hickson
Trainer Chris Waller plans to give his leading TAB Everest contender Arcadia Queen a look at the Randwick course proper with an exhibition gallop seven days prior to Australia’s richest race.
Waller gave serious thought to racing the outstanding four-year-old at Randwick this weekend but opted for a barrier trial at home on Tuesday and she did it easily in a 1030m heat.
Arcadia Queen, a $7 chance in the TAB Everest, ran right up to the raps on her from Perth when she raced away with the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at her Sydney debut last month and Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth said she couldn’t be better.
“I went over to see how she pulled up and she pulled up enormous after the trial, just as we’d want,’’ Duckworth said.
“She’s come on in leaps and bounds since that first-up run. She was nice and fresh and bright and James (McDonald) couldn’t have gone slower on her and she still won the trial.’’
There’s a sense of excitement building around Arcadia Queen, who will also attempt to win the inaugural $7.5m The Golden Eagle (1500m) after the Everest.
She’s racing in The Star’s TAB Everest slot and, if there was any doubt, it’s been confirmed James McDonald will ride her on October 19.
Arcadia Queen wins a trial at Rosehill on October 1
“It’s exciting to have a runner in the Everest and when you have a horse you think is a genuine chance you’re all the more excited,’’ Duckworth said.
“It’s stiff opposition she’s up against but the good thing is she hasn’t become dour as her preparation has gone on.
“We’ll pad out time, keep her nice and happy and let her do the talking.’’
Whether stablemate Enticing Star retains her place in the TAB Everest after her shock unplaced effort in the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) last Saturday, where she failed to run on with any gusto, could be decided sooner rather than later.
Waller said after the race they’d consider trialling her in blinkers, which were used with good effect in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes in December following her first ever defeat.
It’s clear owner Bob Peters wasn’t happy watching Enticing Star, who holds the Chris Waller Racing slot, labour into fifth placing behind Mizzy.
“I’d give her about a two out of 10, it wasn’t very good,’’ Peters said on Melbourne’s RSN on Tuesday.
“We’ll have a bit of a talk about it in the next day or so and come to a decision.
“She did the same thing last year in the 1400m race (Lee Steere Stakes) then came out and ran a really good race with the blinkers on.
“The main thing is we have to look after the horse and if she’s not right she won’t be running.’’
Waller was vocal in suggesting his sprinter Nature Strip deserved a place in the Everest after his Group 1 win in the Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley last Friday night.
If he doesn’t gain a slot in the next 10 days he’ll likely run in the Schillaci Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on October 12 where the winner will take the Melbourne Racing Club slot.
Nature Strip is a $15 chance while Enticing Star’s price in the TAB Everest drifted from $15 to $51 after her first-up flop.