Far north Queensland sensation Paniagua has been strongly backed to continue his winning roll as new trainer Glen Baker declared him ready to rumble in the $250,000 The Gateway at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Shooting for his ninth consecutive win in his biggest test to date, Paniagua opened as long as $16 in some places and was as short as $6 on Thursday morning.
The country star was $11 into $6 with Ladbrokes before easing slightly.
The betting agency is keen to take him on.
“Paniagua is quickly becoming one of the most popular horses in Queensland and punters have wasted no time throwing their support behind him ahead of The Gateway,” Tom Hackett from Ladbrokes said.
“He currently accounts for over 80 per cent of our hold on the race and, at this stage, is our only losing result in the contest.
‘We have to respect the early money and there is no doubt that he is an exciting horse, but he is a galloper that we are happy to take on.
‘This is easily the toughest test of his career to date and the hype may have started to go a bit too far.”
Paniagua was this week transferred from Mareeba horseman Alex Malliff to Glen Baker at Beaudesert so he could be prepared for the crack at the $250,000 race.
After Paniagua came to town to produce a dazzling win at Doomben over 1600m last Saturday, Baker on Thursday confirmed the son of Tycoon Ruler will back up in the 1400m Gateway which offers the winner a golden ticket into the 2021 Stradbroke Handicap.
All-Star Mile officials made contact with connections on Thursday after Malliff this week expressed interest in the rich Victorian race should Paniagua continue to successfully raise the bar.
Baker said Paniagua had enjoyed the week in his new surroundings and has no doubt he will perform well in The Gateway.
“I’ve got a lot of paddock space on my property and he has really enjoyed that and it has kept him nice and bright,” Baker said.
“This race might be a bit of a class rise for him but on paper the speed map doesn’t look bad, there might be a bit of pace on for him.
“He’s such a lovely and versatile horse.
“He has won from 1100m to 2100m so he’s definitely not a one-trick pony.”
Just like he did last Saturday, legendary Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson, 62, will head to Brisbane for his only ride of the day on Saturday, Paniagua.
Originally published asCountry star strongly backed to make in nine straight wins
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