Strike The Stars might still be a maiden but Kathy O’Hara is hoping the wraps on the youngster can translate into a strong performance against older horses in Saturday’s Group Two Chelmsford Stakes at Warwick Farm.
Trainer Anthony Cummings elected to throw the three-year-old in the deep end in the weight-for-age Chelmsford over 1600m instead of running him over 1400 metres in the Listed Ming Dynasty against his own age.
No three-year-old has won the Chelmsford since Mighty Kingdom in 1979 but O’Hara believes Strike The Stars isn’t out of contention.
“I haven’t ridden him before but there’s pretty big wraps on him,” O’Hara said.
“I have spoken to Glyn (Schofield) and he thinks he’s a really nice horse for later on as he gets up in distance, and that’s why Anthony has chosen the mile on Saturday instead of the 1400 of the Ming Dynasty.”
Under the weight-for-age scale Strike The Stars will carry 50.5kg in the Chelmsford, at least six kilograms less than any of his rivals.
“He has no weight on his back and the race has a lot of stayers in it on their way back,” O’Hara said.
“I know he is a long way out of his grade but the wraps on the horse are pretty good and he gets to a journey more to his liking.
“He’s out of his grade but there’s no reason why he won’t run well.”
Strike The Stars will be third-up in the Chelmsford after going down in a photo-finish to Fernhill Handicap-winning three-year-old Darci Be Good over 1400m at Rosehill two weeks ago with Schofield on board.
“They rode him like a stayer (last start) and his effort to finish off the way he did was really good. I think the mile will be right up his alley,” O’Hara said.
Strike The Stars is one of the leading contenders in early betting for the Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) to be run on October 1.
He is also on the third line of betting with TAB Sportsbet for the Chelmsford at $7 behind favourite My Kingdom Of Fife ($3.60) and Warwick Stakes placegetter Startsmeup ($6).
Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday will run in the Chelmsford after the Hawkes team decided on the Sydney race over the Makybe Diva Stakes in Melbourne.
O’Hara’s nice book of rides also includes the speedy Zaratone in the Group Three Concorde Stakes (1100m).
O’Hara rode Zaratone to an all-the-way win in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on August 13.
“Warwick Farm is going to suit him with the short straight,” she said.
“He should be able to lead on his ear and hopefully he can do the same as last time. I think it’s a nice race for him.”