Chris Waller-trained stablemates Counterattack and Sir Bacchus will compete against each for a guaranteed spot in the Stradbroke Handicap.
Trainer Chris Waller decided against running Counterattack in Saturday’s Group One BTC Cup at Doomben in favour of the Fred Best Classic a week later.
The winner of the Fred Best (1350m) for three-year-olds gains an automatic berth in Brisbane’s premier race, the $1.5 million Stradbroke (1400m) on June 11.
Counterattack has had two Group One starts for a midfield finish in last year’s J J Atkins won by stablemate Press Statement and third to another Waller-trained colt, Japonisme, in the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring.
“He lost his rider before the Newmarket Handicap so he didn’t get to run there,” Waller said.
“He is a Group One horse in the making but whether it’s this season or next, I’m not sure.
“He drew badly in the BTC Cup so he needs a bit of luck with the barriers.”
Counterattack is at $21 in early Stradbroke markets with Sir Bacchus at $14.
Sir Bacchus is yet to step out at Group level with his only experience at against better horses when he was unplaced in the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas in January.
He finished four lengths behind the winner Mahuta who beat subsequent Group One winner Single Gaze by a length.
Since he returned from a break, Sir Bacchus has won two benchmark races at Rosehill, his home track.
Spiritjim will be among Waller’s runners in Saturday’s Group One Doomben Cup (2000m).
The French Group Two winner received a pass mark from his new trainer despite doing a few things wrong when four lengths seventh in the Hollindale Stakes at his first Australian start.
Hugh Bowman will make a flying visit to ride Counterattack and Spiritjim before returning to Japan where he is midway through his latest stint.