Showy grey Stratocaster has conquered his own colour in New Zealand and now he’s attempting to do the same in Australia when he tackles the greys in the Off The Track Subzero Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on Thursday.
The Emma-Lee and David Browne-trained gelding cruised to a three-quarter length victory in the Powerworx Greys (1400m) at New Plymouth last month and has since topped that run off nicely with a trial at Te Aroha before travelling over to Melbourne last week.
“We were hoping he would win like that (at New Plymouth), which obviously gave us the confidence to come over here,” Emma-Lee Browne said.
“He was basically only going to Te Aroha for a gallop and he went up and ran second under his own steam, so we’re very happy with how he trialed.
“He’s travelled over really well, I am very happy with how he has settled in. He’s a big, strong horse that always likes his food, so that’s made the travelling a lot easier.”
Browne is confident with her charge heading into Thursday’s race, but does hold a slight concern over the 60kg he will carry.
“Hopefully he will go well,” she said. “We were hoping to get a little less weight because it’s a Benchmark 90 and he’s only on 77, but the field hasn’t come up overly strong and as a result we will have to carry a bit more weight than what we would have liked.”
Stratocaster will be ridden by top Australian hoop Craig Williams and Browne said it will be an exciting experience for the horse’s connections to have a runner in the Melbourne Cup carnival.
“It’s great to have a runner on Oaks Day. That was one thing that we thought for our owners, that we may as well come over and have a go. It’s good prizemoney and they get to come over here and be a part of the carnival.”
Initially planned as a hit-and-run mission, Stratocaster’s Melbourne campaign will be re- assessed after Thursday’s race.
“We’ll just see,” Browne said. “We had just thought to come over for the one race, but definitive plans will be made post-race.”