With only two of the past seven winners of the G1 Stradbroke Handicap having saluted at a starting price shorter than $21, the “Straddie” has been a difficult race for punters in recent years and the 2015 edition is shaping up as no different. With early favourite Lumosty ($5.50) not guaranteed a start being first emergency, there’s potentially plenty of betting movement still to come. Of those assured of lining up in the $2M feature, Charlie Boy ($6.00), Godolphin pair Knoydart and Generalife ($9.00) and Western Australian galloper Black Heart Bart ($8.00) are the only runners under double figure odds. Boban ($11.00) will be out to replicate the feat of last year’s Stradbroke winner River Lad and claim the Doomben 10,000/Stradbroke double however history, or more accurately weight, is against him with the last horse to carry his allocated weight of 58.5kgs to victory being the mighty Rough Habit in 1992.
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1. BOBAN – Glyn Schofield (8)
Given a freshen up after noting performing to expectations in three starts during the Sydney autumn carnival but was back to his best when resuming with a win in the G1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m). Settled at the tail of the field but was bolting on the turn and when the gap opened up inside of a few wider runners, the 5yo took the run with a turn of foot not seen since his 2013 spring campaign.
Excellent trial for this race; has an excellent record at Doomben and even with top-weight, would be hard to leave out.
2. HOT SNITZEL – Blake Shinn (16)
Ridden a treat by Blake Shinn to score in the G1 BTC Cup (1200m), his first run in six weeks and for new training camp Snowden Racing, backing up his impressive second to the in-form Generalife at his start prior in the G3 Star Kingdom Stakes. The 6yo has never been in better form and he has been kept up to the mark since his BTC Cup win with a solid and narrow second to Avoid Lightning, favourite for the Lightning Stakes in Sydney. Drawn has dealt him no favour though and he and Shinn will need to produce something special to score from out there.
3. SACRED STAR – Zac Purton (5)
New Zealander who was set a task when resuming from a fifteen week spell in the hotly contested G1 Doomben 10,000 but met the challenge commendably in running fifth (3.6 lengths) behind Boban.
Settling midfield, the Tony Pike trained galloper found a bit of traffic on the point of the turn before holding his ground well late. Takes plenty of benefit out of that run and worked smartly Tuesday morning at Breakfast With The Stars. Produced a huge effort second up to run fifth (1.8 lengths) in this race last year after winning the G2 QTC Cup and looks on track to at least equal that effort again this year.
4. SMOKIN JOEY –
Raced in great heart in the early Melbourne autumn carnival, winning the G3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) and running second (1.3 lengths) to Suavito in the G1 Futurity Stakes (1400m). He was given a freshen-up after that campaign by trainer Wez Hunter and returned to racing in the G1 Darley Goodwood Handicap. Settling well back under the steadier of 58.5kgs, he only held his ground in the run home and crossed the line in fourteenth spot, 5.5 lengths behind Flamberge. Fitter and hasn’t been to this weight for a long time now. Will be doing his best work late but at this level, often finds at least one or two too good.
5. GENERALIFE – Hugh Bowman
Oh no! Barrier twenty-one! Form this time in from the improving 5yo has been first rate. An impressive win first up in the G3 Star Kingdom Stakes was backed up by an excellent effort in the G1 TJ Smith when closing from the tail of the field in a leader dominated race to run fifth (1.1 lengths) behind Dissident and Wandjina.
The Godolphin runner then contested the WFA Doomben 10,000 and went within a neck of claiming his maiden G1 when shaded by Boban and Hot Snitzel on the line. He was caught three and four deep throughout last start from the wide gate and was the second to widest runner turning, the winner pinching a run a few horses inside of him proving the difference. Flying at present and drops to 54.5kgs here, 4.5kgs on last start, could not be in a better position to win this race – until the barrier draw!
6. TEMPLE OF BOOM – Michael Rodd (14)
Showed good improvement second up when wide throughout to run seventh (2.7 lengths) to Hot Snitzel in the G1 BTC Cup before again being posted deep for the duration of the G1 Doomben 10,000 from a wide gate, when tenth (5.8 lengths) to Boban. The grand old campaigner is approaching 9 years of age, hasn’t had things go to plan for him in recent runs and despite a favourable drop in weights to 54.5kgs, a weight he hasn’t seen since the 2012 G1 Newmarket Handicap, he looks like he’ll need to work early again from an awkward draw.
7. LORD OF THE SKY – Tommy Berry (3)
Went within a whisker of causing a boil-over in the G1 TJ Smith when caught right on the line by Chautauqua before being shaded again late at the highest level, when ¾ of a length behind Flamberge in the G1 Goodwood Handicap. Good effort after crossing to lead from a wide gate in the Goodwood and the Robbie Laing trained galloper seems to be delivering in the promise he has always shown. Sure to be on the pace again but with only one run beyond 1200m in his eighteen starts, they’d have to be concerns about him seeing out this trip given the anticipated pressure that will be on up front.
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8. CHARLIE BOY – Craig Williams (7)
Took out the G3 Brc Sprint at his second run back from a spell and despite stepping up to G1 WFA company and drawing the second-to-widest gate in the field of sixteen, the 4yo produced a career best run to finish second (head) to Boban in the G1 Doomben 10,000. He peeled out to be the widest runner at the top of the straight, in doing so presenting the subsequent winner with what proved to be the winning run, and closed strongly in the run to the line. Meets Boban 5kgs better and drawn to get a lovely run just off the speed.
9. KNOYDART – James McDonald (4)
For the fifth time in seven starts at Group 1 level, this 5yo galloper registered a top five finish when fourth in the G1 Doomben 10,000 at his most recent start. He was a clear last approaching the turn before angle out behind heels to be following the fast finishing trifecta of Boban, Charlie Boy and Generalife home, 3.1 lengths in arrears. Consistent type who’ll again be charging late but his style of racing, which would be better suited to the bigger Eagle Farm track, dictates that he’ll need everything to go right in the run to arrive in time and would probably be better suited drawn further out.
10. BIG MONEY – Robert Thomas (9)
Showed good improvement after a plain performance first up in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes behind Our Boy Malachi, to run sixth (2.6 lengths) in Hot Snitzel’s G1 BTC Cup. The Rod Northam trained galloper was expected to improve again at his following start, the G1 Doomben 10,000, but no luck from the turn to the run home prevented the 5yo from producing his best and it’s best to forgive him his eleventh placing (5.9 lengths). He could be a sharp improver with a touch of luck in running and dropping to handicap conditions. One for those looking for some value.
11. BLACK HEART BART – Glenn Smith (17)
Western Australian galloper who was aiming for five straight wins when lining up as the $4.60 in Morphettville’s G1 Goodwood Handicap. The Vaughan Stigley trained galloper found himself in an awkward position on the turn, fourth last on the fence and behind a bunched field. He eased off heels and after balancing up when in the clear at the 200m, the Blackfriars gelding finished strongly and within two lengths of winner Flamberge. Got shuffled back too far last but from seventeen will have to give a stronger field again, another head start as they turn.
12. FONTELINA – (19)
Wasn’t that far off them in his first three runs back from an extended spell, in top quality races such as the TJ Smith and All Aged Stakes however, his two recent runs in Queensland have seen him well accounted for in both the BTC Cup and Doomben 10,000. Drew well in the BTC Cup and despite a nice run in transit, was under the pump into the turn and the Anthony Cummings trained galloper fell away from an on-pace position in the 10,000, where he finished second to last, too easily to suggest he can turn that around and be competitive here.
13. EL ROCA – (2)
First up off a thirteen month spell, the New Zealand galloper when dealt no favours when drawing wide in the G2 Btc Cup, which saw him posted deep just off the pace for most of the trip. Not surprisingly, he folded late to finish over ten lengths from winner Hot Snitzel before lining up in last week’s G2 QTC Cup. He settled in a more favourable position but given some smart sprinters weight over the 1200m, couldn’t capitalise on his run and finished fifth of eight (3.5 lengths). Will take further benefit from that run and the reduced weight/increase distance are in his favour however, would have to recapture his very best form to be winning here.
14. SRIKANDI – Kerrin McEvoy (1)
After a neat win first up of a year’s break in the G2 Victory Stakes on the Gold Coast, nothing went right for the Ciaron Maher trained mare at her following start, the BTC Cup when eight and seven lengths behind Hot Snitzel. The Dubawi mare than enjoyed the perfect run in transit in the WFA G1 Doomben 10,000 from an inside draw and presented strongly at the top of the straight however, she was quickly claimed at the 200m and finished sixth (3.8 lengths). Better suited to under handicap conditions of this race and has drawn the perfect gate, allowing McEvoy to have her in the box seat throughout.
15. FAST ‘N’ ROCKING – Craig Newitt (6)
4yo who, whilst not winning, has been racing well in quality races this campaign and hasn’t been too far off the leading sprinters. He settled much closer to the speed than anticipated when contesting the G3 BRC Sprint early in May, his most recent run, but wasn’t able to produce his normally strong finish from that position and held his ground to run fifth (2.3 lengths) behind Charlie Boy. Gets to the right weight here, carried similar when third in both the Oakleigh Plate and fourth in The Galaxy, where he finished strongly in each event. Will need a touch of luck here given the big field on the smaller Doomben circuit but with the right run, could run better than his current quote of $35 would suggest.
16. DELECTATION – Glen Boss (11)
Well ridden to claim the G2 Arrowfield Stakes from the fast-finishing Bring Me The Maid back in April before doing his best work late in the Listed Ascot Handicap a fortnight ago when third (2.8 lengths) behind impressive winner, Into The Red. Drew wide, settled last and with top-weight of 59kgs, circled the field last start, his first run for some seven weeks. The Shamardal 3yo will strip fitter again for that run and drops attractively at no surprise to see him the subject of good support.
17. LUMOSTY – Corey Brown (13) (1st EM)
Robert Smerdon’s filly has posted two emphatic victories at Flemington since returning from a spell, claiming an Open Handicap before taking out the Listed Straight Six by almost three lengths from Le Bonsir. Returned great ratings for her most recent victory, a new peak for her career, and whilst this will be clearly be the strongest race she has contested in her nine start career, the daughter of Fastnet Rock cannot be in finer form for the challenge.
Plenty sweating on her gaining a start and if she does, comes right into the calculations.
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18. ROCK STURDY – Tim Clark (12) (2nd EM)
Needed the run first up from a spell in the Hall Mark Stakes and made good improvement off it second up when after being wide throughout from a poor draw, the 4yo son of Fastnet Rock was only shaded late by the in-form Charlie Boy in the G3 Brc Sprint. His only run since came in last fortnight’s Doomben 10,000 where he found some trouble midfield at the 800m before railing home along the fence to finish seventh (4 lengths) behind Boban. Not a bad effort last time out under WFA conditions given the first four across the line all swept home out wide. Going well and now that he gets some weight advantage against the proven G1 performers under the handicap conditions, can get closer again.
19. FLAMINGO STAR – (20) (3rd EM)
The imported galloper was sent a task by trainer Chris Waller for his first local start, lining up in the G1 Doomben 10,000. He draw the inside gate, settled handy to the speed and stuck on ok over the 1350m first up to finish eighth (4.8 lengths) behind Boban. Can only be better for that run but for the time being, would prefer to see him in something easier and slightly longer.
20. RIVA DE LAGO – (15) (4th EM)
Stepping out for the first time for his new trainer Rob Heathcote, he got the dream run from the inside gate when contesting the Glasshouse Handicap on the Sunshine Coast and capitalised on his position to score by 1.3 lengths. Couldn’t have panned out better for him last start, his first win in a long while, but won’t find this as easy.
21. TRIED AND TIRED (18) (5th EM)
Needs a minor miracle to gain a start in the race and a bigger one again to be winning it.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Srikandi and Lord Of The Sky prominent early from their inside gates and although both are some query over the trip for mine and would like to get a cheap sectional sometime in the race, not sure they’ll be allowed that opportunity given Temple of Boom and Hot Snitzel – both drawn wider out, will keep them honest. Sacred Star ($11.00) will improve lengths off of his first up run and is drawn to get a lovely run in gate five. He worked smartly during the week and has world class jockey Zac Purton steering. Drawn inside of him is Charlie Boy who was outstanding in the Doomben 10,000 and maps to get an easier run here. Pre barrier draw, thought Generalife was the clear top pick and although it makes it tough for him, can’t let the $9.00 on offer go given the form he is in this campaign. Value chances to Big Money ($26.00) and Fast’n’Rocking ($31.00) both of whom will be finishing hard.
1. SACRED STAR
2. CHARLIE BOY
4. BIG MONEY