Thunderstruck Ready For Ultimate Test

The prospect of racing on an extremely Heavy track may have sapped some confidence out of the connections of I’m Thunderstruck, but if racing is largely about timing, Saturday’s fascinating Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick is not yet lost.

The New Zealand-bred four-year-old remains a genuine query horse in what is shaping as the ultimate test at Randwick, where the extent of the Heavy surface will prove crucial to the final result.

Such bog conditions are a concern for connections of I’m Thunderstruck, but as for the challenge of taking on the best weight-for-age horses in the land for a $4 million prize, they believe the son of Shocking is certainly ready.

“It’s the race of the year but we are not going to hide him,” said Michael Kent Jnr, who trains in partnership with Mick Price.

“He’s a tough, very sound gelding and they don’t pull up any better than he did last week (out of his second placing in the Doncaster).

“We’ve looked after him – he’s only had 13 starts – and he’s there to be a racehorse and we’re happy to have a go.

“Certainly, it wouldn’t surprise us to see him run top four, but these are the best weight-for-age horses in the country and they have been doing battle over these trips a bit longer than us.

“We would have preferred not to get all the rain because it makes it a very tough, testing 2000 metres. So, for his first go at 10 furlongs, he’s up against warriors that are tougher and more seasoned than him.

“It is going to be a bog, they will be slogging home. The Heavy track last week, they had a day or two to dry out and I haven’t walked a softer track in my life than last week and it can’t be any better this week.”

Australia’s leading trainer Chris Waller this week said he is open to the prospect that Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes could signal a changing of the guard in Australian racing, with his champion mare Verry Elleegant’s future hinging at least partly on Saturday’s result.

Verry Elleegant turns seven at the end of the season and may not race here again if she goes to Paris in October for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Zaaki soon turns eight and although only lightly raced (32 starts), he can’t be expected to be better again next season.

As for the young brigade, three-year-old Anamoe shapes up for his second run against the older horses after his wonderful Cox Plate performance in the spring and he is heading for a four-year-old career on the track while young mares Duais and Montefilia might yet be better again in the spring.

Kent Jnr and Price also have claims on another of the G1s on Day 2 of The Championships when they saddle Annavisto and Quantum Mechanic in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).

“We could make a few excuses for Annavisto last time and I think third-up you can expect her to peak. The wet is a bit unknown but I think she is over the odds ($13 with Sportsbet),” he said.

“She’ll be up on the speed while Quantum Mechanic will drift back a bit. She ran third in the race last year and her work since her last run (Sunline Stakes) has been outstanding.”

Kent Jnr said the stable is likely to scratch US-bred colt Green Belt from the Listed South Pacific Stakes (1400m) due to the likely track conditions.

“Being first-up, with a Queensland campaign in mind, we may scratch him and run him in Brisbane on Saturday week in the Listed Daybreak Lover, which is a Listed 1400-metre race for three-year-olds.

“His target race is the G2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) two weeks later.”


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