Champion jockey Craig Williams is keen to break one Group One drought and hopes another doesn't last as long at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Williams is chasing his third Stradbroke Handicap win, and has his fingers crossed he can win his first J.J. Atkins.
The Melbourne Cup winning jockey rides Gentlemen Roy for Ben and JD Hayes in the $3 million Stradbroke Handicap over 1400 metres, while Chevron is his mount in the $1 million Atkins for two-year-olds over 1600 metres.
"I'm quietly confident both my horses will run well in the Stradbroke and the Atkins," Williams told ACM Racing. "I would love to add another couple of Group Ones wins to my tally [of 68]. We'll be giving it our best shot on Saturday."
Snipers Bullet gave Williams his first Stradbroke victory in 2007 and that was followed by Tofane in 2021.
"There was a bit of a drought between my two Stradbroke wins," he said. "I hope I don't have a drought for my third Stradbroke.
"Gentleman Roy is drawn favourably in barrier two. I rode Gentleman Roy in his last start when he ran down the line in the Group One Kingsford Smith at Eagle Farm last month.
"He drew a wide gate in that race and had no chance. He was well back in the Kingsford Smith but with the nice barrier in the Stradbroke he should be in the right spot in the run.
"Gentleman Roy has good gate speed. I'll have a chat with the Hayes boys before the race but I would say their message will be to take advantage of barrier two. Gentleman Roy has had a change in head gear for the Stradbroke. He'll race in winkers again which should help him."
Williams praised Racing Queensland "for revitalising this carnival".
"Undoubtedly, putting up the $3 million prizemoney has made sure of a very good field and the top trainers have runners," he said.
"There appears to be numerous [Stradbroke] chances on paper. The form around horses like Think About It and Hawaii Five Oh looks to be very strong but then you've got James Cummings' horses Vilana and Aft Cabin ... you've got to rate Chain Of Lightning a good hope.
"I can't forget Ciaron Maher's couple of runners in Royal Merchant and Ruthless Dame. The Maher stable had a great run in the Group One races in Adelaide last month, so they'll be confident on Saturday."
Gentleman Roy is a $26 hope in the early betting markets for the Stradbroke with BET365.
Williams is confident Chevron will appreciate the 1600 metres of the Atkins compared to his last unplaced run in the Sires Produce over 1400 metres at Eagle Farm on May 27.
"We've drawn the car park on Chevron in the Atkins," he said. "I would have liked a better barrier then 16 but it is what it is. We can't do anything about it.
"Chevron settled back in the field in the Sires and I would say we'll do the same again in the Atkins. I thought his run in the Sires was good. He made up a lot of ground in the 1400 metre race and appeared to me to be crying out for the 1600 metres.
"I think there's only one or two of the horses running in the Atkins that have run over 1600 metres. It's going to be foreign territory for most of the 17 runners but I'm confident Chevron will run out the mile out strongly."
Early betting markets with BET365 rate Chevron as a $26 chance.
Williams has six other rides on the nine-race program. His mounts include Long Arm (Group Two Brisbane Cup), Lion's Roar (Group Two Q22) and Finepoint (Group Two Dane Ripper Stakes).
Saturday's feature meeting is at Sandown while Sydney hosts a 10-race program at Randwick.
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