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Azkadellia has tightened her grip on Stradbroke Handicap favouritism following Damien Oliver’s booking for the mare in the Group One race.

The Ciaron Maher-trained four-year-old has firmed into $4.40 for the race at Eagle Farm on June 11 despite solid support for $6 equal second pick Black Heart Bart.

Oliver replaces Mark Zahra on Azkadellia after the pair finished second to Music Magnate in the Doomben 10,000.

Zahra starts a suspension after riding at the Queensland Oaks meeting on Saturday.

Oliver has ridden Azkadellia three times, registering two wins, including the Group One Queen of the Turf Stakes at Randwick during The Championships.

“He’s got a great record on the horse and seems to gel well with her so I’m rapt to have him back on,” Maher told Melbourne radio station RSN.

Maher said Azkadellia had recovered well from the Doomben 10,000 performance, her first outing in seven weeks.

The mare has been given a few quiet days at the beach and had a trot and canter on the track on Tuesday.

“On Sunday morning she seemed pretty well and she cleaned up her tucker and I think the run will bring her on,” Maher said.

“She probably peaked on her run and I think Eagle Farm will suit her better.”

Maher said it was a balancing act to freshen Azkadellia and then have her fit enough for the Doomben 10,000 after enduring a tough Sydney autumn that included running third in the Doncaster Mile a week before her Queen of the Turf success.

 
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