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Clark hunting second Stradbroke on Vilana

Having put his hand up to ride Vilana in the Stradbroke Handicap prior to the horse's thumping Moreton Cup win, Tim Clark suddenly finds himself in the box seat for a second success in Queensland's premier race.

Vilana has firmed into $5 outright favouritism for Saturday's $3 million showpiece, rocketing into contention with a 3-1/2 length romp at Eagle Farm last weekend when ridden by James Mcdonald.

Unable to make Vilana's 53kg Stradbroke weight, McDonald was never in contention to stick with him for the feature and trainer James Cummings was having difficulty finding a rider until Clark offered his services prior to the five-year-old's impressive last-start win.

It is looking like an astute decision by Clark as he chases a second Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) triumph following Alligator Blood's victory two years ago.

Vilana has missed a place in the past two renewals of the race, but Clark points out there will be an important difference on Saturday.

"He's a gelding this time and he is going into the race in the right form," Clark said.

"He didn't have to run on Saturday, he would have already made the field, so the fact that James [Cummings] wanted to run him I guess is a good sign that he is happy and thriving. He has just got to produce that sort of performance and it will have him somewhere in the finish.

"He has had a couple of goes at the Stradbroke without a result so hopefully it's third time lucky."

Clark also takes the ride on Imperialist (NZ) in the Group 1 JJ Atkins; picture Racing Queensland/Michael McInally

Clark will also be replacing McDonald in the Group 1 J J Atkins (1600m) aboard the Chris Waller-trained Imperialist (NZ). McDonald steered the youngster to victory in last Saturday's Phoenix Stakes (1500m) but had a long-term commitment to the Cummings-trained odds-on favourite Broadsiding.

Clark is more than happy to reunite with Imperialist (NZ) after riding him two starts ago when he finished fourth on Randwick's Kensington track.

"He is going to run a mile on his ear and that is one thing that is going to be in his favour," Clark said. "Obviously, the favourite has proven he can run it too, but there might be some question marks over some of the other horses running out a strong mile."

The Group 1 pair form part of a handy program of Eagle Farm rides for Clark, whose book also includes Tulloch Lodge colt Bases Loaded in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) and Waller's dual Group placegetter Roots in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m).

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