Robert Heathcote’s fears that Startantes could miss a start in Saturday’s 2022 Stradbroke Handicap were allayed when the filly scraped in, which has resulted in a big sigh of relief.
The daughter of Star Turn needs only a turnaround in fortunes to be a factor in the $1.5 million Group 1 according to the Eagle Farm trainer.
An encouraging first-up fourth placing in the Group 2 Victory Stakes was followed by luckless efforts at her past two.
The three-year-old will be reunited with Taylor Marshall, who has ridden her to four of her five wins, and Heathcote is convinced she is going well enough to give the 1400-metre race a shake.
“Startantes has had zero luck her last two runs, she’s been back looking for clear runs and hasn’t been able to get it,” Heathcote said.
“Taylor Marshall goes back on and he knows her. We’ve already talked about it, he’s going to need luck because she’s a backmarker.”
Startatnes appeared in danger of being first emergency after Baller earned a place in the race if connections so desired following his win in Saturday’s Moreton Cup, but their decision to bypass the race, combined with original topweight Kementari also missing, ensured she was safely in the field.
Startantes, who will carry just 50kg, gaining a run gives Heathcote three starters and while Rothfire is the highest-profile, the trainer is adamant Emerald Kingdom is a better chance than his odds suggest.
A $41 chance in TAB’s final field market, the son of Bryannbo’s Gift finished midfield in the BRC Sprint having defeated Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup winner Apache Chase in the inaugural The Archer at Rockhampton at his previous start.
“My longshot actually beat the favourite (Apache Chase) two runs ago in Rockhampton, he was very unlucky in the BRC Sprint and he’ll go better than his odds reflect,” Heathcote said.
Emerald Kingdom, who will be ridden by Kerrin Mcevoy, has 54.5kg, the same weight as Rothfire, who will be ridden by Tommy Berry.
With Kementari out, Epsom Handicap winner Private Eye will carry top weight with 57kg with Ranch Hand, Flying Crazy, Tycoonist and Frankie Pinot the emergencies.