Royal Strata will be out to pass a distance test at Belmont, but trainer Justin Warwick believes she is in with sound claims after her run last week.
Royal Strata hit the front at the 200m and looked the winner, but she couldn’t withstand the finishing burst of Zaratite, finishing 2 ½ lengths third.
Royal Strata, Noir De Rue and Spiritual Warrior hands Warwick a potent three-pronged attack in the Vale Michael Dragun Handicap (2100m) on Saturday.
Royal Strata is rated a $13 prospect with Tabtouch, firming from her opening quote of $21, but she sits behind Noir De Rue ($4.40) and Spiritual Warrior ($5).
Despite the market disparity between Royal Strata and her stable mates, Warwick made a compelling case for the mare when speaking on Tabradio.
“Her run the other day was quite good,” Warwick said.
“She is probably going to get a good run.
“She hasn’t won over the trip, but her run the other day was good.
“She probably got exposed when she hit the front a long way from home.
“If she can run a good 2100m, at the price she is probably worth a go.”
Royal Strata has drawn the outside of the ten horse field. Kyra Yuill claims the ride.
Noir De Rue is racing consistently without winning, five placings from 11 starts this preparation.
The Blackfriars gelding, to be ridden by Jarrad Noske, will jump from gate seven.
Spiritual Warrior can bounce back after a luckless run behind Zaratite last week, fading to ninth after getting trapped wide with no cover.
Shaun McGruddy, who rode the four-year-old to victory at his previous start over 2200m, reclaims the ride. He commences from barrier nine.
Warwick believes all three of his runners are in contention to win.
“Noir De Rue finds it hard to win,” Warwick said.
“He’s brave and has a good motor, just lacks that high speed that you need to finish off a lot of races.
“He is always thereabouts.
“Spiritual Warrior probably comes under the same category.
“Both honest horses, but just lack a little bit of quickening.”
Speed will be no issue for Excellent Dream, a debut starter in the Go Racing For Free Before The Footy Plate (1000m).
Off an impressive trial win a fortnight back, the two-year-old is well considered, holding second market share ($3.80) behind Special Choice ($2.35).
“He’s a quick little horse,” Warwick said.
“I didn’t think he would get to the races this time.
“He pulled well after the trial and away we go.
“He is a quick horse who runs on and gives everything he’s got.
“He has plenty of speed.”
McGruddy will handle Excellent Dream for his first start.
In a field of 11 starters the gelding will step from barrier seven.