Strawberry Boy is best known as a miler but a recent first-up form reference behind star mare Winx points to him sprinting well fresh in the Canterbury Classic.
The seven-year-old resumed with a close fourth to the subsequent Cox Plate winner in the Theo Marks Stakes in September when he made the running and was only collared in the final strides.
Competitive in two Group One events during the Melbourne spring carnival, he hasn’t raced since bringing up the rear in the Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day.
“He’d had enough by the time he had his last run but prior to that he was running well in Group Ones,” trainer Chris Waller said.
“He had a couple of weeks off and he trialled well last week. He’ll run well.”
Waller has put his faith in stable apprentice Rory Hutchings to do the steering on Saturday despite the junior rider being unable to use his claim on Strawberry Boy.
Hutchings will be chasing his second black-type win in Australia after claiming the Missile Stakes on Burbero in August.
“I’ve been very happy with Rory,” Waller said.
“A lot of the senior riders are away or not in Sydney this weekend so he deserves his chance. He’s going terrific.”
Blake Shinn is also anticipating a strong first-up showing from handy mare I’ve Got The Looks in the Canterbury Classic.
Formerly trained by Shinn’s mentor, the late Guy Walter, I’ve Got The Looks has continued to flourish under Peter and Paul Snowden stringing together successive wins during the Brisbane winter carnival.
“She’s a horse very dear to my heart and it’s good to get back on her,” Shinn said.
“She goes well fresh and she loves wet ground and it appears she might get that on Saturday.
“She’s a horse who doesn’t like to be ridden too close but she’s got a great finish.”
I’ve Got The Looks is on the second line of betting at $4.60 behind favourite Echo Gal.
Strawberry Boy is an $8 chance in an open market.