It's a long weekend for most of Australia (note - we don't say it's just for the banks!) and that always means the running of the nation's best 1400m race - the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm in Brisbane. It's a great old track but unfortunately it is in dire need of repair. Any race day with a bit of rain and the track starts falling apart. Great on a dry day though. A massive crowd attends every year, and this year's race is typically hard.
Tasked with the preview is Joshua Langdon, @Wenin_Rome. You can read more of his work on his website, ThePuntRoadEnd.
Stradbroke Handicap 1400M G1
Unlike some of the other Group 1s over the Winter Carnival, the Stradbroke has produced some surprising results in the past with the average winning price being $15. Only two times over the past 20 years has a last start winner won the race, with the most recent being last year's winner in Linton. So what does this mean? Well it might pay to look for value on Saturday in Queensland’s richest race.
The key lead-up races to the Stradbroke are the Doomben 10,000 (won by Spirit of Boom) and the BTC Cup (won by Famous Seamus). The 10,000 has produced 6 of the past 10 winners. Both the 10,000 and the BTC Cup are under WFA conditions, and with the Stradbroke a handicap, it’s little surprise that there have been some surprise results over the years with horses dropping in some cases severely in weight for this race.
All runners should get their chance on Saturday despite what barrier they draw, with five of the past 10 winners starting from worse than barrier 16.
Largely unknown until this year's carnival, Srikandi’s rise has been something to behold and she has progressed brilliantly in each step up in class. She’s been able to overcome every obstacle, with her most recent being a step up from 54kg to 57kg in the Glenlogan Park G3 against her own sex; however, this is a completely different beast. She’s had the benefit of running on a very leader-biased track in her past two wins, but won’t get the same advantage this weekend. This is a massive step up and she will have to be very, very good to win and from the wide gate she will now have to push forward rather than take the early sit as planned. Will be a wonderful training effort if she does win and hopefully we have unearthed another star here for the future regardless.
Rebel Dane was absolutely massive last start in the 10,000, from a very wide gate where he was made to do plenty of work, yet he was able to finish a super impressive 4th and looks to be very well placed here. History could be repeating here as he has once again drawn very poorly and it will be a very tough ask for him to overcome this. The All Aged performance was below expectations, but likely due to the gut buster the start prior against Lankan Rupee in the T.J. Smith on a heavy track. The 1400m will suit as will the drop in weight from the 59kg in the 10,000 to 56kg, but the gate is an absolute killer and you can tell how much so just from the reaction of the trainer. They deserver much better than this.
Scratched from the Guineas to concentrated on this, Hucklebuck having the one run already under his belt the Qld way around, should be right to go here and word on the street is that his last start was simply a blow out, so forget taking too much of note from that. He gets in with the bare minimum here and if ridden colder as expected then will be charging home late and very hard to hold out. From gate one, he should get every opportunity to do this and his spring form says that he is well and truly in this.
Spirit of Boom has been absolutely flying and for a significant time now, including a second in the Newmarket and first in the Doomben 10,000. His final 400m sectional times in the Newmarket were identical to that of Lankan Rupee and that’s lightning. However, history is a bit against him here, with only two prior winners at the maximum weight, but he has drawn very favourably again and with heap of speed on early, he should be making plenty of ground late. He is worse off at the weights than a few from 10,000, but you simply can’t knock him based on recent form and the 1400m will suit. As long as it stays dry, he will be in this up to his neck in his final race prior to stud. Go the Boom!
Knoydart was super to the line in the 10,000 and will appreciate the big 6kg weight drop here. His last 200m there was in 11.60, which was the fastest in the race. His 3rd in the Newmarket was very impressive, finishing behind the two best sprinters in the country in Lanken Rupee and Spirit of Boom. He meets Spirit of Boom much better at the weights here from both of those occasions, with the Boom carrying 55kg in the Newmarket, 59kg in the 10,000 and now 57.5kg on Saturday. He is a massive chance with the 53.5kg and from barrier 14, should hopefully be able to settle mid-field and leave his run to the final few hundred metres.
Red Tracer has finished second in an Epsom, but largely her best performances have been against her own sex, so this will be very tough and no doubt would appreciate some given in the track. However, she flies first up, winning four from eight and placing in the other four. You must respect the stable, he is on fire right now, with a plethora of winners in both Brisbane and Sydney last weekend. Barrier not helpful, but she is a champion.
Very surprised at the odds on offer here for Temple of Boom as his recent form has been the equivalent of his more favoured half-brother. He was .2L off Spirit of Boom in the 10,000 and then 1.4L off them in the BTC Cup, gets a very nice weight pull on his brother here dropping by 3.5kg from 59kg to 55kg. He will be in the mix as he has been over this carnival, but the wide gate is going to be a pain for him, but he started from gate 14 in both the Victory G2 (won) & the BTC Cup (fourth).
Famous Seamus surprised with a G1 victory in the BTC Cup, but ran to his normal rating in the Doomben 10,000 and I am happy to think that that is more his level.
Massive fan of Smokin Joey and he has been very competitive since joining the Wez Hunter stable. He finished second in the Emirates last year by 0.2L and then flew home to win the Goodwood over 1200m most recently. He trialled on the 25th of May, finishing third when ridden very cold, and should be fitter for this. The 1400m will suit and there will be speed on so watch him late, and I mean very late. This is close to a mirror image of the preparation leading into his win in the TAB.COM.AU Hcp last year prior to his second in the Emirates, with close to a month between runs there also. He would have loved to have drawn further outside, but from gate three and with a heap of others forced to push forward early, he should be able to drop back.
You can make a case for a heap of these, but my numbers are as follows in a typically tough Straddie.
3. Spirit of Boom
4. Smokin Joey