Leading Newcastle trainers Paul Perry and Kris Lees are considering starts in the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400 metres) for Perast and Le Romain respectively after mixed fortunes on Saturday.
Three-year-old Snitzel colt Perast produced an impressive front-running effort on a poor Doomben track to win the last, the group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m), by half a length and secure a spot in the June 9 Stradbroke at the same venue.
Le Romain had earlier been pipped at the post by stud-bound Godolphin star Impending in the group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1350m).
Le Romain shortened from $11 to $6 for the Stradbroke but Lees said his three-time group 1 winner was not a certain starter.
“He’s pulled up fine but we’re yet to decide if he goes on to the Stradbroke,” Lees said on Sunday.
“He’s had a long preparation to get to this. Yesterday’s race and the All Aged Stakes were the races he was set for, so we’ll just have a look at the weights. It’s back to handicap conditions, so I want to see how others are treated compared to him.”
Le Romain, with Glyn Schofield aboard, led, kicked in the straight and looked the winner until he moved out at the 100m mark, but Lees offered no excuses.
“He just shifted out a bit when he changed hands with his whip,” Lees said. “The little sidestep and missed stride didn’t help, but there were no real excuses.
“He was probably left alone in front a long way from home and you are always a bit of a sitting duck like that, but he’s a pretty good horse Impending.”
Perry was also keen to see acceptances and weights before committing to the Stradbroke with Perast, which could take on an easier task in the group 2 Queensland Guineas on the same day.
“It was a good effort and a really good win,” Perry said of the Fred Best victory, which came in near darkness after delays of 90 minutes because of concerns about the track.
“You’d have to give the Stradbroke a lot of thought. It’s a great race and it’s a race three-year-olds work all right in. He would be well suited. Even time wise, he was was very comparable, and the track had deteriorated, so it was good.”
Perast ran 1:19.70, with a last 600m of 35.46, while Impending clocked 1:19.51 over the same trip. Perry said he would have a clearer idea of Perast’s target after next acceptances on Wednesday.
The Mission finished a distant 10th in the Fred Best Classic for Perry, who confirmed the group 1 winner’s race career was over. The Choisir three-year-old will stand at Aquis Farm in Queensland.
“He knocked his head as he come out of the barriers and [jockey Craig Williams] said he never felt right,” Perry said. “He’s been lovely and he should do all right up there, the way he’s bred.”
Perry and Lees had other bad luck at the meeting.
Perry’s Nothing Too Hard bled in the Grand Prix Stakes and the Lees-trained Graff, which will be spelled, was a late scratching after he lunged at the gates before the group 2 Sires’ Produce. Lees won at Randwick with Bastia.
“He knocked his head in the gates and they had to pull a tooth out when he came back to the stall. It was hanging out,” Perry said of Nothing Too Hard. “He bled on top of that, and [jockey Matthew McGillivray] said he knew a half-mile out that there was something wrong with him.”
Lees said Graff had “a few abrasions on his knee, and I understand why he had to come out.”
“He’ll be fine but he’ll go to the paddock now.”
On Bastia, Lees said: “It was good to see him do that, he’s been threatening to do that for a while.
“There will be some nice races over the winter for him in Sydney.”
AAP reports: Track complaint mars Doomben G1 meeting
Racing Queensland is expected to hold an inquiry into the track problems that caused a delay to the Queensland Oaks meeting at Doomben.
Saturday's meeting was put back 90 minutes after jockeys raised concerns about the state of the track in the back straight.
It is the third year in a row trouble has hit a major Group One meeting in Brisbane.
Last year there was widespread criticism of the Eagle Farm track after the running of the Group One Kingsford Smith Cup.
The Oaks meeting, which was scheduled for a week later, was switched to Doomben.
In 2016 the Oaks meeting was called off on the morning of the race after a deluge drenched the track.
After the running of the BRC Sires' Produce Stakes, race five on Saturday, some jockeys raised concerns about a section of the track near the 1100m.
A deputation of riders led by Jim Byrne, Kerrin McEvoy and Craig Wiliams joined track staff and stewards to inspect the track.
After 40 minutes chief steward Allan Reardon returned and called all jockeys, trainers, owners and the media into an impromptu conference.
"The situation is we hoped the light roller on the area would allow us to continue. That doesn't appear to have happened," Reardon said.
"The alternatives are to just go out and ride on it and plot your own course. Or to bring the rail out two metres which will take about an hour."
It was decided to move the rail and racing could proceed after another inspection.
Racing resumed at 3.37pm with the running of race six which was due to run at 2.20pm.
The remaining three races were then run with shorter intervals in between.
"We had to work in with Sky Channel but we got the two Group One races in and then were able to get the Fred Best Classic run," Reardon said.
"It was important that we ran the Fred Best because it is a ballot-free race for the Stradbroke."
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