Jockey Tim Bell is confident he has made the correct decision in taking the ride on in-form kiwi-based sprinter Sacred Star in this weekend’s featured Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), rather than maintaining his partnership with confirmed starter River Lad.
Partnering Sacred Star to an impressive victory in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm last weekend, Bell told the Courier Mail that while not an easy decision to make, it is the Tony Pike-trained gelding that he feels is ready for Group 1 success.
“It wasn’t an easy decision because I have built a really good friendship with Natalie McCall and I’ve win a couple of nice Group 3 races on River Lad,” Bell said.
“It was definitely hard getting off him but opportunities like this don’t come around too often.
“I just feel like Sacred Star fits the mould of a Stradbroke winner a bit better.
“I know that no horse has ever done the double, but no horse has had a preparation like this one either. They have gone in with a deliberate plan and the freshness in his legs is going to be a big help.”
Claiming an impressive six race victories and a further two minor places over 17 competitive race starts to date, Sacred Star has been a mainstay in major events in New Zealand since arriving in the care of Tony Pike.
Claiming three victories back-to-back to open his 2013 summer preparation, the Flying Spur gelding continually built in form and class on his way to a strong third in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) and unlucky second behind Viadana in the Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) on February 8th.
Bursting into contention with his comfortable QTC Cup victory, Sacred Star is currently offered at generous $13 odds for success in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap at leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.
Aiming for a sixth consecutive victory in this weekend’s feature race, Srikandi has maintained favouritism for success at current $4.60 odds, ahead of Rebel Dane ($6.50), Hucklebuck ($7) and Red Tracer ($8.50).
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