Champion trainer Chris Waller has a Group One mission in mind for Strawberry Boy and Flamingo Star after they gave him a one-two finish in the Wayne Wilson Mile at Doomben on Saturday.
Strawberry Boy, the $2.20 favourite, had a short neck to spare from Flamingo Star ($4.80) in a result which shapes as a forerunner to clashes during the spring.
“It’s more than likely they’ll both go to the paddock now and we can look forward to the spring with them,” Waller said.
“Strawberry Boy deserves a chance in a race like the Epsom because, being a handicap, he should get in with a nice light weight.
“Flamingo Star is an ideal type for the Epsom as well and it was always the plan to give him a light campaign during the winter then plan ahead for the spring.”
Waller said it was unlikely Strawberry Boy would have his winter carnival campaign extended to take in next week’s Ipswich Cup (2150m).
Ridden by Zac Purton, Strawberry Boy took up his customary front-running role and carved out some fast sectionals to post 1min34.58secs, just outside the track record.
“He’s a really easy horse to ride for a jockey because he has a lovely big action and a high cruising speed,” Purton said.
“The horse outside him kept him honest during the race but I always thought he’d kick on too strongly for the others.”
Hugh Bowman was impressed with the effort of Flamingo Star who settled behind Strawberry Boy during the race and was rapidly overhauling him.
“The winner is in outstanding form and I had to ride my horse a little bit out of his comfort zone,” he said.
“At the pace they went up front he did a great job to finish as close as he did.”