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Azkadellia To Improve Into Stradbroke: Maher
Trainer Ciaron Maher is confident that top mare Azkadellia (Shinko King-Raving, by Centaine) will derive plenty of improvement from her second-place finish in last Saturday's Gr1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m). Having her first start since winning the Gr1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on 9 April, the 4YO loomed to win last weekend's feature but faded slightly over the final 50 metres to be narrowly defeated by the Bjorn Baker-trained Music Magnate. Maher expects that run to bring Azkadellia on nicely for her primary winter target, the $1.5 million Gr1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday week (11 June). "She spent a couple of days at the beach and had another easy trot and canter this morning [Tuesday] - she seems pretty well," Maher told Melbourne's Radio Sport National. "I think the run will really bring her on. She needed a good strong hit-out and she should be pretty right in two weeks time." He added: "It's a bit of a fine line when you are freshening a horse from the autumn carnival in terms of how much to do for a weight-for-age sprint race like that, but I couldn't have been happier with the way she performed and the way she has come through the race." Maher also confirmed that champion jockey Damien Oliver would be reunited wit the star mare. "Ollie [Damien Oliver] will be back on her," he said. "He has a great record on the horse and seems to gel well with her." Azkadellia is currently the $4.40 TAB favourite for the Stradbroke ahead of Black Heart Bart and Counterattack at $6.