Stradbroke Handicap preview 2014

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Bring it on! The Stradbroke handicap 1400m around the roomy EAGLE FARM track. There are forecasts of showers through the week and without taking the mickey out of the Bureau it’s a fair dinkum guess! One thing this track doesn’t want is a lot of rain, many feel it will crumble underneath, and rain on the day would be horrendous.

If we get the same surface as last week that would be spot on for QLD’s best race!

IVE DONE THIS PREVIEW on Good/Dead surface.

I seen my mate Chris Nelson throw some stats out during the week on twitter, I thought it was a good idea so I have come up with a few of my own for the preview:

Here are the STATS for the last 20 Years:Brissyraces Image

*5 out of the last 20 favourites have won the race.

*11 out of the last 20 have won at double figure odds.

*Lead up– 10 of the last 20 winners have used the 10,000 as their final lead up run.

*Gates– There has been a great mix in the winning gates so not reading too much into that.

*Weights– The highest winning weight in the last 20 years was SHOW A HEART with 56kg, the next highest being BLACK PIRANHA with 55.5kg.

Not just because it is a QLD race, this is my favourite race of the year. A group 1 handicap can’t be beaten. Yes I know the best horses race WFA but that can be so boring with the same horses dominating so often. This race gives every horse a chance and like the Cox plate you have 3 year olds in the mix making things interesting. Here is how I see the race runner by runner and then a wrap up of the race.:

1— SPIRIT OF BOOM: Deserves his top weight with 2 Group 1 victories, his last being a fortnight ago in the 10,000 (the main lead up to this). In career best form and will appreciate the jump across the road to Eagle Farm. Big weight the query but has the runs on the board and can win on a Good track after being the big winner in the barrier draw.

2— REBEL DANE: Thought he was the best run in the race in the 10,000. Made a long wide run on a leader bias track to circle field, take about 4-5L off the winners and die on his run late. Incredible effort last start and that was the run of a horse I want to follow into his grand final. Meets Spirit Of Boom 1.5kg better off at the weights here. A real shame he has drawn the carpark, will have to go back and hope for luck. The horse to beat if he gets that luck….

3— FAMOUS SEAMUS: Group 1 winner two runs back and no luck in the 10,000, forget he went around. Right up to this on his best form and another who may be a bit of value come jump time, and gate 10 is really suitable for him. ($17 is a fair price him)

4— RED TRACER: Super mare! The real query in the race for me. Genuinely one of the best mares in the country on her day. Ran great fresh last prep and then put in a couple of flat ones (Flat for her meant 3rd in two G1’s). Has since trialled really well (winning two trials in May) and all reports are she is going really well. Showing her huge respect. Out to $11 after the draw and that is getting tempting.

5— TEMPLE OF BOOM: Although he has won a G1 he has been a little forgotten this preparation even after beating his little brother home a couple of runs ago. Any rain would only help and looks as though he may start over the odds here. Probably pushes forward from the wide gate.

6— SMOKIN JOEY: Comes off a super win in the G1 Goodwood. Has mixed his form over a couple of prep’s and can be hard to catch. Ran well in some good races over the Spring. EF suits his style, not the worst.

7— RIVER LAD: One of the local hopes. Old ‘Bill’ is a beauty! Gives his all every start, he does look to be up against here in a top shelf G1 but can’t fault his form with a placing behind Appearance and a G3 win to his name in his last 3 runs.

8— CONSERVATORIUM: Nice horse but has been getting beaten by 5L consistently lately. The Adelaide run was ok and guessing their hopes may be the blinkers going back on?

9— SACRED STAR: Coming off the QTC Cup win last week. Had been following him in NZ and he ran right up to what was expected last week. This is a different race all together and the QTC cup is a real bogie race for the Stradbroke which is the big query. Not prepared to say he can’t win, probably goes in exotic bets but not in my top couple.

10— KNOYDART: Really interested in this bloke. Was gelded before this prep and come back a cracking horse. Two G1 third placing’s behind possibly the world’s best sprinter Lankan Rupee line up really well for a Stradbroke. Was within 1.8L from the winners in the 10,000, he drops 5.5kg and meets most of these far better off at the weights. He is the ‘weight’ horse out of the main lead up.

11— BELLTONE: Great run fresh but flat as a tack 2nd up.. He is no spring chicken and would have to pull one massive rabbit out of his hat to win.

12— VELROSSO: Far from the worst fresh but this is a big step up. He won the Magic Millions cup in January 2nd up so may not be the worst here but this is his toughest task.

13— EMBLEMS: Well he simply isn’t one of mine. Personally I would be leaning to his stablemate Knoydart beating him home but wouldn’t be surprised for some to follow him from a good gate and he did beat Masthead home at Scone.

14— REPARATIONS: Been running well at Listed level down south but the horses he beat last start would need a lasso to stay in touch here.

15— LUCKY HUSSLER: Not sure if a horse has ever won a Stradbroke with two ‘duck eggs’ next to its name in the form- Finished outside the top 10 in both its last starts and gear change needed would be ‘rocket on first time’.

16— SCORPIO QUEEN: Not the worst $71 pop ive seen. Really good prep and freshened up for this. Hard to see her beating these sprinters but not the worst.

17— SRIKANDI: Has set the town alight since arriving. Has been blowing away fields of fillies and mares. Steps to the big time. This is not a ‘leaders’ race and from the gate surely she has to shoot across? If that’s the case she will look the winner at the 200m, can she hang on?

18— HUCKLEBUCK: Another big winner from the barrier draw. The key for connections is not to get carried away with the gate and push hard to get the box seat, I reckon about 5th-6th would be the perfect sit at a decent tempo and he can run over the top of them late with 51kg. This could be his day to stand up and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t right in the money!


19— MASTHEAD: Similar chances to Sacred Star he got close to last weekend.

20— INTO THE RED: I’d be surprised backing up from a 2nd last on Saturday.

21— HAVANA: Unlikely to get a run.

22— BELLE DE COEUR: Unlikely to get a run

23— SCREAM MACHINE: Unlikely to get a run.

I do feel this may not be the best Stradbroke we have ever seen and do feel the class horses at the top of the weights are still right in this race for that very reason. Most years there seems to be a fair few horses down the bottom with light weights that are on the way up and explode race day.


I have SRIKANDI shooting across and should lead them up. I’d expect TEMPLE OF BOOM to try and grab her shoulder and get a drag across while CONSERVATORIUM will do his best to hold the fence but will probably settle for 3rd the fence behind SRIKANDI. That should all happen at a fair tempo but more speed will be created if CONSERVATORIUM wants to hold the front. RIVER LAD may also try his luck to tag them across and get a sit in behind them, if the pace isn’t that strong Oliver may even keep pushing for the front. EMBLEMS may try to hold a decent spot in the run while HUCKLEBUCK should get every favour in the world and there is every chance SPIRIT OF BOOM will try to find his back and get a tow into the race. Interested to see where RED TRACER settles, has the ability to roll up to the first four or so but probably better suited coming from further back/\.

 Many are gunning for SRIKANDI and while I really respect her she is going to have to be extremely good. She will have to carry 1kg more than Dane Ripper and 2.5kg more than La Montagna did when they won the race as 3 yr olds. On the other hand HUCKLEBUCK will carry the same weight as her and being a gelding obviously gets in better. Not much between them but I feel HUCKLEBUCK may get in better here and should improve sharply off his first up run into his 2nd up run (terrific 2nd up record 2 starts 2 wins).

The BOOM brothers are airborne and both horses will love getting to EF. Neither had won over the road but have great records around the bigger track with TEMPLE OF BOOM winning 5 times here. I would have a slight leaning to SPIRIT OF BOOM but there is a chance of showers and TEMPLE OF BOOM gets in better at the weights out of the 10,000 so there is only a split hair between them but the gate sends me the top weights way.

RED TRACER has the weight of a good mare but that is exactly what she is, a real top shelf mare who handles all conditions and in my mind the 1400m is about her ideal trip. Add to that her fresh record of 8 starts for 4 wins and 4 placing’s she is in this up to her ears. Needs a pinch of luck from the gate, I’m sure they would settle with 3 wide and cover if it happened.

For mine two of the best runs in the 10,000 were REBEL DANE and KNOYDART. Let’s start with KNOYDART who settled at the back, he ended up getting on the back of REBEL DANE and couldn’t really sprint with him, however he finished off a touch better. He was entitled to finish like that as REBEL DANE had taken off early. REBEL DANE went back on the bias track, he circled early and from the 350m-50m he was incredible and the effort had to tell. He goes on top for me as they are the runs in the lead ups that usually win the Straddy. Connections would have loved a gate to get a nice easy run in behind but he will nearly have to settle last from the gate. He always puts in and will be extremely strong late.

FAMOUS SEAMUS brings all the right form lines in and gets a gate to suit, he should be respected in trifecta’s etc.

*Can find a knock on nearly every horse. Have it down to 5 main chances and hoping for a patient and well-timed ride by Tommy Berry on Rebel Dane. That’s what may prove the difference in an even event like this, best ride wins.


2014 STRADBROKE handicap Selections:







*Remember to check in for the full Brisbane preview Friday afternoon.