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Stradbroke Handicap preview

I love the Stradbroke, it's Australia's (and possibly the world's) richest 1400m race, a distance which is often overlooked in the elite races of the world. And it's a late season handicap, so you get 3yos with their last opportunity to take on the older horses with a slight weight advantage. One million dollars for the winner, not to be sneezed at. Great day's racing at Eagle Farm, let's hope it doesn't rain on the day as the track is long overdue for remedial works.

Stepping up to the plate again is Josh Humbler from Excelleresport. Find more of his shrewd analysis by following him @excelleresport.

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AAMI Stradbroke Handicap, 1400m, Group 1, Saturday 1540 AEST.

#1- Buffering ($9): a Queensland favourite who has now presented in 13 Group 1 starts for no wins. Rode the hot speed in the Doomben 10,000 and gets a good run today after finishing second last year. Could be vulnerable inside the last 200m.

#2 - Epaulette ($7): astonishing sprint to win the Doomben 10,000 and needs to be promoted as one of the all-conquering 3yo contingent. If he can find respite from his gate a similar finish may be in order.

#3 - Solzhenitsyn ($17): the profile of a mile back to 1400m interests me, however the barrier is troublesome. In my view he needs a cold ride similar to that in his Toorak victory and that doesn’t look possible here.

#4 - Streama ($14): the leading ‘older horse’ in the Doncaster and has the same mile back to 1400m profile. Has trialled in between runs. The blinkers first time suggest positivity from the gate. Leading chance within the older horses.

#5 – My Quest For Peace ($51): likely to be in a similar position to the 10,000, in which he was uncompetitive. I expect a similar result here.

#6 - Linton ($36): has been well placed in his Adelaide victories taking on fields far inferior to this. I believe blinkers have been applied to attempt to sharpen his sprint. Willing to risk it at this level.

#7 – Decision Time ($36): an honest toiler, however he does look tested at Group 1 level. I was soft on it last week before it was scratched; therefore I need to risk it today.

#8 – Your Song ($5): performed well enough in the 10,000 after a dominant victory here two starts ago. The proud owner of the SP profile from that event following a dominant victory here. 3yo from a good gate where he should be able to find cover. Good chance.

#9 – Spirit of Boom ($26): has form around many of the second tier horses in this event and, in my view, isn’t up to Group 1 level.

#10 – Happy Zero ($151): always seems to appeal based on form long, long ago. Not this time.

#11 – Hot Snitzel ($41): appeared well suited in the QTC Cup last week and couldn’t get the job done in a busy finish. Will get a sweet run. Trifectas & First 4s.

#12 – Yosei ($41): teases and rarely delivers. When she does though, it is in Group 1s at big prices. Not for me.

#13 – Belltone ($17): winner of a lead up, though it looks to be second tier. Over the same distance a week later on a similar dead-rated track, Epaulette ran 0.7 seconds quicker and, even with the mad speed up front in the 10,000, the last 600m was still 0.1 seconds quicker than Belltone’s race. Trifecta & First 4s only.

#14 – Famous Seamus ($71): owns the SP profile from the Belltone race, though dropped out badly over the concluding stages. Worth risking.

#15 – Fontelina ($17): the form from the standalone meetings at Hawkesbury and Scone has stood up all carnival and this horse won well at Scone. My concern is his Group 1 record – seven starts, for zero placings. Will get the run he wants and play a part in the finish.

#16 – Spirit Song ($61): always around the mark in Mares races in Victoria before relocating this campaign. Older horses have a question mark in general; therefore I need to risk an older mare with one lead up run at 1110m.

#17 – Better Than Ready ($8.50): a member of the 3yo contingent, though rightly not at the top of the markets. There is no doubting his ability, however his preparation doesn’t sit right with me to be a winning chance. Trifectas & First 4s.

#18 – Sizzling ($5.50): surprisingly has not met one of his fellow competitors here going back at least two years. That is certainly different form leading into a Group 1. Good run last week when he was open to being run down. Previous 3yo winners Sincero & La Montagna had SPs of $7.50 & $10. This makes the $4.20 at the beginning of the week ridiculous and is now finding his right price.

#19 – Riva De Lago ($21): very interesting if he can sneak into the field. I have him on the same line as Streama behind the three leading 3yo’s. Brings different form to the event and has the SP profile over Fontelina from their meeting at Scone. Good each way chance if he gets in.

#20 – Conservatorium ($71): another who would add interest by gaining a run. I rated him highly last week when he narrowly missed and with a sweeter run from the gate he has the tools to be competitive. Of the older horses, he is on my second line behind Streama & RDL.

#21 – Phelan Ready ($71): Difficult to have and unlikely to get a run.

#22 – Celtic Dancer ($201): Ditto Phelan Ready.

#23 – Miss Stellabelle ($101): Would need a miracle to get a start.

SUMMARY
There isn’t a clear stand out for me; therefore the way to attack the race is to build a book around those who are value in the market.

The three year olds Epaulette, Your Song and Sizzling appeal most. I would suggest a price point of $5.50 to back all three, which is currently available from Betfair. The best older horses for mine are Streama and Fontelina plus the two emergencies should they gain a run.

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