Paul Hunter admits Qingdao heads into unchartered waters, but remains optimistic the in-form filly can overcome a distance query in the Flip’s Electrics Handicap at Albany on Thursday.
The daughter of Testa Rossa has been in blistering form for Hunter, posting two wins from three starts since teaming up with his stable, but gets her first hit-out at 1500m.
“No one really knows how they will go until they are put under race pressure and everyone is in the same boat,” Hunter said.
“But I pretty much think by her racing style and the way she moves it shouldn’t really pose any sort of problems for her.
“I’m not sure what her plans are going forward, but we all might get a better indication on what the future holds after.
“Her work has been solid and she has come on since her last win. I really can’t fault her and I think she will be competitive.”
Qingdao is a member of Craig Thompson’s team at Mt Hallowell Stud and transferred to the Great Southern after being soundly beaten at Belmont and Northam.
The move has paid off with only a three length second to Potent Secret preventing Qingdao from having a clean sweep in Albany.
She carries an extra 2kg for apprentice, Jordan Turner and in a capacity field of 12 runners she will jump from barrier eight.
Last-start Albany winner, Bettsie and Equity Rules look to be her biggest threats.
While Hunter has his concerns over Qingdao, by contrast, he doesn’t believe the same risk applies to Cleve’s Watching.
Following in the path of his stable mate, Cleve’s Watching ventured south after trailing a small field of five when on debut at Ascot in October.
The Bel Esprit gelding has relished his new environment and looms large to break through in the Rainbow Coast Insurance Brokers Maiden (1500m).
First up for Hunter he finished off strongly from midfield when a close second to Rossmoyne (1230m), beaten a half-length.
At his previous start he finished a bunching fourth to Dream Merger, when just 1 ½ lengths separated the first seven runners.
“I think the step-up to 1500m will suit on the way he has been attacking the line,” Hunter said.
“I’m looking forward to him racing.
“He is going to be competitive.”
Former Victorian Unperturbed made a terrific start to his Western Australian career when a slashing second to Potent Secret, going down by a half-length after racing on speed.
A repeat performance from the four-year-old and he should go close to in the Christmas Parties @ Albany Races Friday 18th December Handicap (1050m).
“It was a good first up run as he has done in the past but his second up record is not as effective which is my only concern,” Hunter said.
“But his work has been super since the run and I am more than happy with him.”
On recent output Our Royal Demon looks to have the task ahead of him against a good line-up in the Jim’s Backhoes Handicap (1240m).
But Hunter believes the five-year-old, unplaced in three starts this campaign, is capable of improvement.
“I thought his run the other day on the wrong part of the track was better,” Hunter said.
“This is a good race but he comes in at the weight and has drawn a barrier.
“I think he is improving and is not far off them.”
Our Royal Demon carries 54kg with the claim of Casey Hunter, a 5kg drop on his last-start sixth to Qingdao. In a field of 12 he has drawn barrier four.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli