Few races at the highest level on the Australian racing calendar have eluded trainer Gai Waterhouse but next Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap is one she hopes to finally tick off.
The Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm is Queensland’s most prestigious race and is widely sought after by both local, interstate and overseas trainers.
However, this year’s Stradbroke has been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means no New Zealand horses can compete this year.
Waterhouse, who trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, will attempt to claim her first win in the 1400-metre feature with Dawn Passage.
Dawn Passage rocketed into Stradbroke favouritism at $4.50 in latest TAB fixed markets following his dominant win in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic over 1350 metres at Doomben at the weekend.
The son of Dawn Approach went into the Fred Best Classic on the back of wins in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas at Rosehill in April and Listed Inglis Guineas at the same track last month.
The three-year-old colt has now won five of his 10 starts and his future value as a stallion proposition will soar if he can win at the elite level.
His only previous attempt at Group 1 level was when he finished sixth in the Golden Rose at Rosehill in September last year.
Waterhouse has tried for more than two decades to win her first Stradbroke but her best efforts have been three placings.
Dawn Passage had to win the Fred Best Classic to gain a ballot free entry into the Stradbroke, in which he will carry a featherweight 50kgs.
Brad Stewart, who rode the colt to victory in the Fred Best can’t make his Stradbroke weight, leaving Sydney hoop James Innes Jnr to partner him.
Bott has no concerns with Dawn Passage backing up a week after his brilliant Fred Best Classic win.
Bott has always held a big opinion of Dawn Passage and no-one is more pleased to see the three-year-old get his chance to win the Stradbroke.
“He’s always shown potential,” Bott said.
“He’s more mature now and is racing with a lot of confidence.
“He’s in great form and is putting it all together at the right time.”