Classic targets in Queensland

The Hassler (Vinnie Colgan) racing away with the action-packed Championship Stakes.

The Hassler (Vinnie Colgan) racing away with the Championship Stakes, the Ellerslie feature in which stablemate Romantic Maid clipped heels and dropped her rider.

Roger James isn’t beaten yet in his hunt for Classic success for the season.

The Cambridge trainer has The Hassler and Romantic Maid in contention for Brisbane next month with last-start Gr. 2 Championship Stakes winner The Hassler on track for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11 and two-win filly Romantic Maid set to have one further start as a lead-up to the Gr. 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at the same track a week earlier.

High Chaparral filly Romantic Maid finished third in her Australian debut in a 1900-metre Rating 78 race at Rosehill last Saturday.

“I was satisfied, but I thought she might have done better,” said James. “Michael Rodd felt she was very much in need of blinkers. He said they would have assisted her in running on more than one occasion.

“We haven’t had that feedback before, but it might be as a result of what happened when she clipped heels at Ellerslie.”

Romantic Maid clipped heels and dropped rider Danielle Johnson in last month’s Gr.2 Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie.

James will add blinkers to Romantic Maid’s gear when she has her next start in either the Gr. 3 Doomben Roses (2000m) tomorrow week or in a 2000-metre three-year-old race at Randwick next Wednesday should she fail to make the Roses field.

The Hassler pleased James with a quiet trial at Cambridge last Tuesday and the gelding is set for an exhibition gallop at Te Rapa tomorrow week ahead of a planned start in the Gr. 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben on May 28.

“It’s two weeks from the Grand Prix Stakes to the Derby. I didn’t think we needed to rush over there and take in the Rough Habit Plate and the Grand Prix Stakes before the Derby,” said James.

“The Grand Prix fits well and he’s done enough here.”

The Hassler has won four of his 11 starts and ran on strongly for fifth in the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) before finishing ninth in the Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), also at Ellerslie. He has since won both his starts.

– NZ Racing Desk.