Enigmatic galloper Stratocaster booked his ticket for a crack at the riches of the Melbourne spring carnival when he cruised to victory at New Plymouth on the weekend.
The lightly raced seven-year-old had hinted at a return to his best form when a fast finishing third at Hastings last weekend and so it proved when he took out the special event for grey horses only over 1400m on Saturday.
Settled near last by rider Darryl Bradley the Mastercraftsman gelding swooped into contention on the point of the home turn before dashing clear to win untouched by three quarters of a length. Cambridge visitor Monrecour closed hard late but had to settle for second with last year’s runner-up Our King Sway in third.
Plagued by injury throughout a career that saw him beat multiple Group One winner Turn Me Loose as a three-year-old, Stratocaster will now cross the Tasman to tackle another special conditions event for grey horses only.
“He’s a really good horse as not many beat Turn Me Loose,” co-trainer David Browne said.
“He’s done that well so we’re very happy with that.
“He’ll probably go to the Subzero at Flemington. It’s only a rating 90 and he will get in well at the weights so we’re going to go and have a crack.”
The Flemington race is named after Australian thoroughbred cult hero Subzero who won the 1992 Melbourne Cup. Nominated for Australian of the Year, “Subbie” as he is affectionately known, turned 30 on August 1 and enjoys a massive public presence through his work with handler Graham Salisbury as racing's flag bearer at schools, hospitals and many other locations in their role as proud ambassadors of the sport
The Subzero Handicap (1400m) will be raced at Flemington on VRC Oaks Day on November 8. – NZ Racing Desk