A tilt at Australia’s richest sprint is now a realistic goal for the nervous but talented Malaguerra who has claimed his first Group win at Rosehill.
After sweating up pre-race, the four-year-old gave his supporters some anxious moments before bullocking through to take control of Saturday’s Group Three Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) and justifying his $2.90 favouritism.
He had a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths to spare over Target In Sight ($9) with Coolring ($5.50) another long head third after leading most of the race.
Co-trainer Lee Freedman said he would consider backing Malaguerra up in next Saturday’s $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
“His aim has been the Stradbroke but we might even run him in the TJ yet,” Freedman said.
“He is a pretty good horse and capable of improvement.
“I think he needs to go to the couch for a while the way he behaved today but he is one of those rare horses that can behave like that and still produce his best.
“If he’d got out sooner, he probably would have won by further.”
Malaguerra has won six of his seven starts since being gelded and is the $4.50 favourite for Brisbane’s premier race, the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June.
His jockey Blake Shinn said while Malaguerra was nervous, it wasn’t a problem.
“I think he just has a bit of nervous energy,” he said.
“The raceday pressure just gets to him a little bit like we saw today and once it’s over he settles down.
“He has a great motor. He settled great in the run once the barriers opened and I was just biding my time but I wasn’t sure if the run was going to come.
“I had a lap full of horse and the leader just rolled off enough and at the 250 (metres) he showed a great turn of foot.
“I didn’t have to hit him or use the whip and he is going places.”