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Cejay's lightweight Stradbroke hope

Thu 30 May 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

Smiling apprentice rider Cejay Graham has her hand up in the air as high as it can go in search of a lightweight ride in the Stradbroke Handicap.

The 25-year-old nabbed her maiden Group 2 victory earlier in the carnival and the emerging rider has her eyes on going to another level in Queensland’s famous race.

Graham galloped Bjorn Baker’s Stradbroke hopeful Stefi Magnetica on Tuesday morning on the course proper.

Stefi Magnetica goes to the Group 3 Fred Best Classic this Saturday with the winner of the 1400 metre event exempt from the ballot for the Stradbroke later in the carnival.

In Stradbroke weights released earlier this week, Stefi Magnetica would carry just 49.5kg if she was to gain a start in the prized race.

That is where Graham hopes she comes into the equation.

Top Sydney pilot Tommy Berry is booked to do the steering on Saturday but if the three-year-old filly was to contest the Stradbroke, the lightweight Graham says she is more than fit and able.

“It was nice to have a sit on her on Tuesday and I definitely have my hand up if that opportunity arises,” Graham said.

“If it does not arise, then I am more than happy to help the team out and gallop these horses for them.

“I am really, really pleased with how it is all going and I am happy to just be galloping these high-level horses if I am asked to.

“My plan is to just keep working hard and I will be here if any opportunities arise. I am naturally very light and walk around at 52kg at the moment.

“I would be able to make the weight of 49.5kg comfortably.”

The All Too Hard filly was an eye-catching runner in the Doomben 10,000 earlier this month where she came from last to finish a touch over a length behind winner Bella Nipotina.

The biggest win of Stefi Magnetica’s career so far is a Benchmark 58 Handicap at Orange on a Thursday, but she has run well at Group level at her last three starts.

The Baker-prepared three-year-old is currently number 24 in the ballot order for the Stradbroke field and is rated as a $9 chance as of Friday afternoon.

Bjorn Baker’s racing manager Luke Hilton is looking after the team while they are in the Sunshine State and was appreciative of Graham’s efforts to gallop Stefi Magnetica and Alegron on Tuesday.

“It was good to get her out on the course proper,” Hilton said of Stefi Magnetica. 

“Cejay thought her work was nice and sharp. Cejay throws her hat in the ring at a light weight (for the Stradbroke).

“There is not many options for jockeys down at that low and this work on Tuesday will give her a kick-up for it.”

If Stefi Magnetica was to win through to Queensland’s time-honoured race, she would have history on her side.

She is a daughter of 2012 Stradbroke winner Mid Summer Music who was prepared by Peter Moody.

“She has got the bloodlines,” part-owner Mitchell Cunningham told Racenet.

“Our family hasn’t had a Stradbroke runner before and, as Queenslanders, it is the race we want to win.

“She is a filly with a lot of ability, she is a real trier and she has got a great constitution and a great attitude to racing.

“She is one of those horses we don’t know what her ceiling is going to be, but we can be sure she has got a hell of a lot of grunt to her, they are the sort of fillies you want to be racing.

“On Saturday, the Fred Best looks to be a decent race this year. But, I think ‘Stefi’ is going enormous.”

Stefi Magnetica is the $3 favourite for the Fred Best as of Friday afternoon.

Graham galloped Alegron for Baker on Tuesday and like Stefi Magnetica, she will not have the race ride on Saturday.

Dylan Gibbons has that job.

Alegron finished strongly in the Chairman’s Handicap at Doomben earlier this month and progresses to the Premier’s Cup over 2400 metres on Saturday.

“He is a genuine stayer and he is going really well,” Hilton said.

“I thought his last run at Doomben was outstanding and he goes to 2400 metres in the Premier’s Cup.

“If he can aim up there then he can look to go to the Brisbane Cup.

“He is coming along really well and he will stay all day, we are pleased with him. The last 100 metres in his race the other day was his best piece of work, he really hit the line strongly.

"I think he will take plenty of improvement from that and he is ready to go for Saturday.”

Graham heads to Eagle Farm on Saturday with four promising engagements: Bettcha The Crown (trained by Desleigh Forster), Hollywood North (Stuart Kendrick), Ostermeier (Alyssa and Troy Sweeney) and Weigall Tiger (Kelly Schweida).

Weigall Tiger is prepared by Graham’s boss Schweida and the apprentice thinks the gelding will be competitive in the Fred Best.

“Weigall Tiger was definitely unlucky last start and did not love the cut in the ground,” the apprentice hoop said.

“I am hoping for a little bit of a firmer track for him.

“He is definitely a horse on the way up and he will improve this prep once he gets to a mile.”

The bookmakers have Weigall Tiger as a $81 chance in the Fred Best.