Having pinpointed the Dane Ripper Stakes as the most suitable option for Irithea during this year’s revised Queensland winter carnival, Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker believes the mare is on track to give the Group Two race a shake.
Irithea is coming off a last-start win in the Group Three Dark Jewel Classic (1400m) for fillies and mares at Rosehill last month, the second time in her 34 start career she has won at Group Three level.
Baker said a tilt at last weekend’s Group One Stradbroke in Brisbane, a race Irithea was unplaced in last year, had also crossed their minds for the mare before settling on Saturday’s Dane Ripper (1400m) against fillies and mares.
Irithea has been placed at Group Two level but is chasing her first Group Two victory.
“She’s a valuable broodmare anyway but a Group Two would definitely help,” Baker said.
The Dane Ripper will be the six-year-old’s ninth start of her current campaign, which kicked off in December, but Baker said Irithea was continuing to perform well and will travel north later this week in good order for Saturday’s assignment.
“She goes well over the 1400 metres,” Baker said.
“She’s had quite a long preparation but she is holding her form great. She’s moving well and she looks good so from that point of view we couldn’t be happier with her.
“She always puts her best foot forward and she’s got a no-nonsense style so she will put herself up there and be competitive.
“She’ll go into the race a really good each-way chance.”
Irithea was kept up to the mark with a pleasing barrier trial at Warwick Farm last week, something which is not uncommon for Baker to do with the mare mid-preparation.
He said Irithea had run well in the past when having around a month between runs with a trial in between.
Irithea was beaten only a length when fourth in last year’s Group One Kingsford Smith Cup in Brisbane racing off a four-week gap with a barrier trial in between.
Early this year she was second in the Magic Millions Fillies And Mares race at the Gold Coast having had the same gap with a trial in preparation.
Ryan Maloney is booked to ride Irithea who was at $7 in an early market on Tuesday with Stradbroke runner-up Madam Rouge equal favourite at $5.50 along with Baccarat Baby ahead of acceptances on Wednesday.