Alexander Of Hales to run in Queensland
Sydney trainer Chris Waller has rolled the dice and taken former Irish stayer Alexander Of Hales to Queensland for the Listed Caloundra Cup despite the possibility the race could be switched from the grass to the all weather Cushion track.
"I’ll be very disappointed if the race is moved to the Cushion track," Waller said.
"In fact, I’m not sure whether it would be allowed to move a Listed race to the Cushion.
"I don’t think the board (Pattern Committee) that decides our Group and Listed races would approve it."
Caloundra was rated a heavy 10 on Thursday following 110 millimetres of rain since Sunday and more was forecast for Friday and Saturday despite a brief respite in the weather over the past few days.
Chief steward Wade Birch inspected the track on Thursday and declared it safe but he did have concerns with a section near the 1000-metre shute.
"The track is very wet but it can take more rain and is safe for racing," said Birch, who will make a further inspection Friday.
Queensland Racing Limited’s racing manager Paul Brennan is confident the three major features, the Caloundra Cup, Glasshouse Handicap and Sunshine Coast Guineas will proceed as normal on the grass track.
The club has programmed 12 races, eight on grass and four on the synthetic surface.
"The only way we would transfer the meeting is if the track became unsafe because of visibility," Brennan said.
"The Sunshine Coast is one of the best wet weather tracks in the country and at this stage we’re proceeding as normal on the grass."
Alexander Of Hales arrived safely in Brisbane on Thursday and will be ridden by Brad Pengelly in the Caloundra Cup (2400m).
Waller also had nominated Alexander Of Hales for Saturday’s Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill but favoured the Caloundra Cup because of its superior prizemoney.
"The Caloundra Cup has more prizemoney than the Winter Cup and we were planning to bring him up for next week’s Queensland Cup anyway," Waller said.
"I didn’t want to give him a gut buster on a heavy track at home and then come up the same week of the Queensland Cup so I decided to send him up earlier and run at Caloundra."
Waller holds no fears with a heavy track for the Irish import who finished fourth under the conditions to Ready To Lift in the Listed McKell Cup (2400m) two starts back at Rosehill on May 30.
"He loves the wet and a heavy track won’t bother him," Waller said.
"He had no excuses in the McKell Cup and had every chance when fourth last start at Rosehill.
"He’s a real grinder who will go all day and I expect to see him race forward and roll along."
Alexander of Hales was imported to Australia by Paul Makin of Starcraft fame and was originally trained in Melbourne by Danny O’Brien who is also a part-owner and sent him to Waller for a change of scenery.
Alexander Of Hales was formerly raced by Coolmore and won a Group Three race in France and finished second to Soldier Of Fortune in the 2007 Irish Derby.
However, the son of Danehill is yet to record a win on Australian soil from 10 starts, six of which were for O’Brien in Melbourne.