Champion trainer Chris Waller’s two big guns for next month’s Group One JJ Atkins, Saffiano and Spokesman, have adapted well since arriving for their first Queensland starts.
Waller has won the Atkins three times with Pressday (2010), Press Statement (2015) and The Autumn Sun (2018) and has nominated nine horses for this year’s race.
Saffiano at $10 and Spokesman at $15 are his highest-rated in current markets for the JJ Atkins on June 6 at Eagle Farm.
They are expected to shorten substantially if they race well in the Listed Ken Russell Memorial (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Waller’s Queensland manager Paul Shailer said the pair had been in Queensland since Monday to satisfy coronavirus movement regulations.
“They have worked on course proper and should be cherry-ripe on Saturday,” Shailer said.
Saffiano, who will be ridden by Ryan Maloney, won his last start at Rosehill in strong fashion.
“It was at 1400m which is the JJ Atkins Stakes distance and he will be strong at the finish,” Shailer said.
Spokesman, who has in-form Matt McGillivray in the saddle, has won his past two starts at Canterbury and Warwick Farm.
“He has had a good trial since the Warwick Farm win to keep him ticking over,” Shailer said.
Spokesman, who is raced by Star Thoroughbreds, and Saffiano, owned by Aquis Farm, are colts.
All three of Waller’s Atkins winners have gone on to stand as sires and a similar future could be in line for his current candidates.
Water Of Wisdom, trained by Toby and Trent Edmonds, is the horse to beat in the Ken Russell.
Toby Edmonds has already equalled his record for wins in a season and is now plotting his first Group One win with his son.
Wisdom Of Water is on the second line of betting at $8 for the Atkins after a dynamic return to racing this campaign.
The colt won a Gold Coast trial by 15 lengths before he won a two-year-old race at the same track by 5-1/2 lengths.
They were his first public appearances since running fourth in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in January.
Edmonds said he felt Wisdom of Water was still reach his full potential.
“He is a bit of a lad and his best will come with maturity. I think his three-year-old year will be his best,” Edmonds said.