Third in last year’s Group I BRC Stradbroke as a green lightly raced three-year-old, the Stradbroke Handicap is firmly on the agenda again for supremely talented The Virginian after a stunning first-up victory in Saturday's Listed BRC Chief De Beers Handicap at Doomben.
A homebred for Stuart Ramsey’s Turangga Farm by leading young sire Hinchinbrook, The Virginian was well primed for his return by astute trainer Toby Edmonds posting a brilliant barrier trial at Deagon earlier this month.
Ridden back in the field by Jim Byrne, The Virginian unleashed a sizzling finish to charge home through the heavy going and win the 1050 metre sprint by three parts of a length.
The Virginian created headlines in the 2016 Stradbroke when finishing third behind Under The Louvre and Black Heart Bart as an $81 pop at only his fourth career outing and coming off a Gold Coast Class 1 win.
"He's nominated for the Straddy so that's our plan," Edmonds said.
"I would like to go into the Stradbroke fresh if we can but if we have to have one more run, we will."
The Virginian ventured to Victoria during the spring but finished unplaced in two Listed starts before heading back to Queensland.
"Hopefully we can get into the Stradbroke now with that prizemoney," Edmonds said. "He is obviously a better horse at home, he didn't really handle the trip to Melbourne."
With three wins from seven starts and prizemoney of $217,000, bookmakers reacted to the Chief De Beers win by halving his Stradbroke quote from $51 into $26.
The $1.5 million Group I Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) is scheduled for Eagle Farm on Saturday June 10.
The Virginian is the first foal of unraced Forestry mare Redwood Dancer (USA), a daughter of Group II winner Fiery Pursuit from the family of Group I winners Flanders, Surfside and Air Force Blue, who stands at Coolmore Australia this spring.
Redwood Dancer has not produced a foal for the past two years and is now in foal to Sebring.