Veteran Sydney gelding Top Striker finds himself in new territory at Doomben where he will make his interstate debut at the ripe age of eight.
In a career that has spanned 44 starts, Top Striker has only raced on NSW tracks, his furthest venture coming just two months ago when he travelled to the NSW Northern Rivers town of Grafton for the Ramornie Handicap, finishing midfield.
It was with some trepidation trainer Greg Hickman sent Top Striker to Queensland earlier this week ahead of his next assignment in the BRC Spring Racing Carnival Open (1110m) at Doomben on Saturday, although the horse took the road trip in his stride.
“The first time he really travelled was to Grafton. He’s been a good enough horse to race in Sydney most of the time,” Hickman said.
“But he got up there OK.
“He had a gallop before he went up there and I was really happy with his work.”
Hickman is based at Warwick Farm but has secured nine permanent boxes at the Gold Coast, partly to give him guaranteed accommodation for his Magic Millions team, but also the flexibility to travel horses when a suitable race presents in Brisbane.
It is especially handy during Sydney’s spring and autumn carnivals when the racing is high-level, making horses like Top Striker more difficult to place.
“I’ve also got a couple of horses heading towards the Magic Millions and it’s hard to get boxes sometimes so it’s a nice option to have,” Hickman said.
Saturday’s race has come up stronger than Hickman anticipated but he still expects Top Striker to make his presence felt.
A Randwick winner in June, Top Striker has finished out of the placings at his past three starts but has not been far away, including at his most recent run when he finished just over 2-1/2 lengths from subsequent stakes winner Sweet Deal over 1400m at Rosehill on August 10.
“He’s been knocking on the door,” Hickman said.
“I thought this race might have been a bit easier but there are a couple of handy horses there.
“In saying that, if my bloke races up to his best they’ll know he’s there.”
Hickman also reported star sprinter Pierata, favourite for next month’s $14 million The Everest, had continued to thrive, working over 1000 metres at three-quarter pace on Thursday.
“He looked beautiful,” Hickman said.
“He’ll have a barrier trial at Warwick Farm (October 8) then straight to the Everest.”