Azkadellia delivered Ciaron Maher his first Sydney Group 1 over the weekend and will be set for an appearance in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) during the Brisbane Winter Carnival, according to the Caulfield-based trainer.
Returning to racing this time for second in the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes (1200m) on February 13th, Azkadellia progressing to success in the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) before running a close second in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) on March 12th.
Running on for a credible third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on Day 1 of The Championships, the Shinko King mare produced a career-best performance to date to win the Group 1 Queen Of The Turk Stakes (1600m) with ease on Saturday.
Crediting Damien Oliver with a typically smart ride on the mare in the success, Maher told Racing Ahead a tilt at the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) would have eventuated had Azkadellia won the Doncaster Mile, and she will now be set for the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap.
“It wasn’t planned but they had been getting off the fence and during the race I thought I knew what he was thinking,” Maher said.
“The longer you can wait on Azkadellia, the better her turn of foot is. You have to be quite steely and to his credit, it was a great ride.
“She’d had a lovely preparation, her runs were well spaced leading into it and she just thrived over that week and peaked on Saturday.
“I was fairly confident. She looked to be really travelling well. Her racing style can lead her to running into bad luck but I was very happy with the way she was travelling.
“I’ve always thought I could stretch her out to the 2000m. If she had won the Doncaster I was pretty keen to give her a shot at the Queen Elizabeth. I think there’s plenty more upside to her.
“We’ll see how she is, I’ll give her a little freshen up for a couple of weeks then the plan is to head into the Straddie relatively fresh.”
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best early 2016 Stradbroke Handicap odds, for which Azkadellia can be taken at a generous quote of $5 for success.