As Craftiness continues to race through his classes in winning style, his trainer is now giving voice to Group One ambitions for the sprinter.
After the four-year-old racked up his fourth straight win and his fifth from six starts at Saturday’s Rosehill meeting, Joe Pride nominated Brisbane’s most prestigious race, the Stradbroke Handicap in June, as a target.
The $1.60 favourite in the Tab.com.au (1100m), Craftiness came out of the barriers in front and stayed there with Blake Shinn riding a controlled race.
The gelding kicked in the straight to put 2-1/2 lengths on Mihiri ($5) with Tahitian Black ($21) another half length third, running a slick 1min:02.57ssecs.
“It was a really good win. I think probably better than the other day and another step up in grade,” Pride said.
“I think he’ll run a nice 1400 (metres).”
To win this year’s Stradbroke, Craftiness will only have to run 1350 metres with the race at Doomben while Eagle Farm is undergoing renovations.
Shinn, who has ridden Craftiness to four of his wins including his first when he was trained by the late Guy Walter, said the gelding kept improving.
“He was awesome today,” he said.
“He paraded better and was more focused and in control.
“I’m excited about him.”
Shinn backed up with another all-the-way win, this time on Godolphin’s Vashka who could be a Stradbroke opponent for Craftiness.
Vashka’s recent record is even more impressive than that of Craftiness with the gelding winning his past five, four with Shinn aboard.
Stable representative Tom Ward said Vashka was likely to have a couple of weeks off to prepare for races at Hawkesbury and Scone in the autumn before heading to Queensland.
“He is a push-button horse and he just keeps raising the bar,” Shinn said.
Starting at $1.40, Vashka held off the gallant Burbero ($8.50) by 1-3/4 lengths with Windjammer ($13) another three lengths third.